Remedial courses to get more expensive for some STC students

McALLEN — Students taking remedial courses at South Texas College could see a change in their bill this semester due to a bill passed last year.

House Bill 2223 changed the way higher education institutions receive funding for students taking developmental, or remedial, courses.

As of last fall, STC received formula funding for any student taking up to 27 credit hours in remedial courses, but starting this spring the threshold dramatically lowered to 18 credit hours for all junior colleges.

“Now the effect is that we will not receive funding for any classes the student takes in developmental classes over 18 hours,” explained Mary Elizondo, STC vice president for finance and administrative services. “So we had to then change that fee that we had at 27 (credit hours) and lower it to 18, to be in agreement.”

The STC board of trustees approved changes to this particular student fee at the end of the fall semester to offset the loss of funding.

Students used to pay $125 per credit once they passed the 27-hour threshold, and will now have to pay once they exceed 18 hours. And while the amount will remain the same, this change means more students will see the added fee.

“It’s cumulative,” Elizondo said. “Once you hit your 19th hour and it’s a developmental (course) … then that will be charged. This is per hour that you go over.”

The change became effective immediately and students who will be able to see the disbursement of this and any other fee online as usual, she said, but are welcome to call or visit the SPIRIT office — Student Payment Information Research and Inquiry Team — with any questions.

The change will also affect public universities across the state, but their threshold was lowered from 19 credit hours to nine per student. At UTRGV, however, there is no expectation of this impacting how much students currently pay.

“UTRGV only offers six hours of developmental coursework currently,” spokesperson Patrick Gonzales wrote in a statement about the hours, which consist of three in math, and three hours of integrated reading and writing. “We anticipate that the change in this aspect of the law should not affect our students and are not currently planning to charge a separate fee for developmental coursework beyond currently assessed tuition and fees.”

The bill also calls for higher education institutions to develop a corequisite model for developmental courses in which students are allowed to take a freshmen-level course at the same time as the remedial course in a particular subject. While also providing better advising, individualized student plans and effectiveness measurements.

Starting with the 2018-19 academic year, higher education institutions would be required to show that at least 25 percent of students taking these courses comply with the requirements of the bill. The percentage will increase to 50 percent in 2019-20 and to 75 percent in 2020-21.

“The (Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board) would analyze data on the effectiveness of college preparatory courses as measured by the rate at which students receiving exceptions successfully completed the college-level course,” states the analysis of HB 2223.