The change, which was effective starting fall semester 2004, allows a student to take 15 to 18 semester credit hours for the same designated tuition fees as 14 semester credit hours. The cap does not apply to statutory tuition, currently at $48 per hour, which students also pay and is established by the Texas State Legislature.
Mandatory fees – fees related to specific services that are not fully supported by appropriated funds such as a computer access fee and the library tech fee – will also maintain a flat fee at 14 semester credit hours.
The cap is intended to provide incentives for students to increase course-loads and ultimately result in improved graduation rates said Dennis McMillan, associate vice president for Enrollment and Student Services.
“We are trying to create a couple of things. We are trying to create a structure that will provide a bit of a tuition discount to students and at the same time encourage them to enroll in more hours so their time to graduation will be shorter,” he said.
The following example illustrates the savings for students. The designated resident tuition at UTPA for a person taking 14 hours is $532 (based on 2004-2005 fees of $38/credit hour). With the cap in place a student taking 18 hours would also pay $532, the same amount as a student taking 14 hours. Without the cap, the designated resident tuition for 18 hours would be $684. Thus, in this case, the cap provides a savings of $152 to the student.
According to Joe Gomez, accountant II in the Office of Comptroller, no requests for the discount are required of students. Savings are calculated automatically when students register for 15 hours or more.
If a student is approved through the recommendation of an academic adviser to take more than 18 hours a semester, he or she will also qualify for the discounted tuition.
McMillan said although the goal of the change is to increase the course loads of students therefore speeding up their time to graduation, there will be a need to identify students who are more academically prepared to take a heavier load of classes.
“There are some students who may want to take advantage of the savings the cap offers but are at risk academically. Those students would not be advised to sign up for 16 or 18 hours,” he said.
McMillan said academic advisers will help determine which students would be most appropriate to take a higher number of semester credit hours.
For more information, contact Gomez at 956/381-2713. Academic advisement questions can be addressed by contacting your academic adviser or calling the Academic Advisement Center at 956/381-2529.