SA universities working to cut student costs

Texas A&M-San ANtonio already offering 'Affordable Degree' program

SAN ANTONIO - Gov. Rick Perry's call for freezing tuition rates for incoming freshmen at public universities, as well asking schools to offer $10,000 degree programs, has partly been met by some schools.

According to statistics by collegeforalltexans.com, the average price for residents to attend a public university in Texas for the 2012-13 school year was $21,147 with $7,396 in tuition.

Texas A&M-San Antonio announced plans in February for what they call their "Affordable Degree," a bachelor's degree in Information Technology geared toward cybersecurity in a partnership with San Antonio College, Judson ISD and San Antonio ISD.

Students can take 60 dual-credit hours while in high school, then 27 hours at San Antonio College and finish with 36 hours at A&M-SA. The cost breakdown for the 2012-13 school year is just over $10,000.

"We know that that is what parents are looking for, that is what the community is looking for, affordable degree options, and we definitely want to do that for our community," said Marilu Reyna, associate vice president for Institutional Advancement and University Communications at A&M-SA.

The school currently only has juniors, seniors and graduate students on its new campus and doesn't expect to have freshmen and sophomores until Fall 2015 at the earliest.

Just under 200 students at Judson ISD and SAISD enrolled in the program this fall and the university is looking into possibly expanding to two other degree fields, possibly criminology and psychology.

While the program mostly benefits students who already have a career path in mind, Reyna said it's open to students already in college and will still benefit high school students who enroll but then change their mind.

"Those credits they earned in high school won't go away, they're still college credits so if they change their focus at some point they will still have earned a nice chunk of hours," she said.

Across the city, the University of Texas at San Antonio is taking a different approach to high tuition costs.

At Wednesday's "State of the University" address, school President Dr. Ricardo Romo announced an aggressive plan to improve the school's graduation rate.

Just 9.6 percent of students who enrolled in 2007 graduated within four years.

The Graduation Rate Improvement Plan (GRIP) includes readiness programs such as UTSA Ready, for incoming freshman to adjust to the academic rigors of college life. Other programs include University College which will have junior and senior students serve in a mentoring role for freshmen to introduce them to helpful programs at the university.

Financial incentives for all students who graduate within four years are also being examined.


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