The Lone Star College System board of trustees voted to increase tuition starting in fall 2023. The unanimous vote passed March 2 without discussion during the consent agenda.
Tuition will increase across in- and out-of-district tuition costs, out-of-state tuition, and dual credit tuition.
LSCS Chancellor Stephen Head said in 2016, the board agreed to equalize the percentage of the budget that students and taxpayers pay in a fiscal year. This years upcoming increase is part of that equalization plan.
"This current year, taxpayers were paying 60% of the costs while students were only paying 32%," he said in a phone interview. "Our goal is to be in the middle."
Head said the board agreed to hold tuition increases for students during 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision caused the taxpayer portion to surpass the 35% goal.
"We don't think it's fair for the taxpayers to be paying more than half of the cost," he said. "There are a number of factors that affect our budget—assessed value, student growth and state funding. In the middle of all that, we are thinking about what the tax rate might be and what the homestead exemption might look like, too. We are trying to be responsive to taxpayers as well as our students."
According to LSCS information, in-district tuition will increase from $96 to $103 per credit hour. The 7.3% increase from the 2022 rate increase is a smaller percent change than the 9.1% increase from $88 to $96 per credit hour the year prior, according to prior Community Impact coverage.
Out-of-district tuition increased by 7.9% over 2022's prices from $214 to $231, while out-of-state and international tuition jumped by 7.8% from 2022 for a new cost of $290 per credit hour.
Dual credit tuition increased by more than 50%. The previous $26 fee increased to $40 per credit hour, according to information from LSCS.
According to LSCS officials, the previous dual credit rate had been tied to historical fees paid prior to tuition and fee simplification. The increase now ties tuition to a basis of estimated costs.
"We haven't raised tuition for dual credit for 5-6 years," Head said. "At this rate, students still be only paying $120 per a class."
According to the Lone Star College website, full-time students need at least 12 credit hours a semester. Students with a full course load able to receive the in-district rate will see a total tuition amount of $1,152. Head said the average LSC student takes nine hours, which approximately costs $864.
By comparison, full-time, in-district students at Houston Community College pay $1,020 per a semester. Students taking nine hours at HCC pay a total of $767.
Head said the board will take a look at tuition costs every year and see if an increase is warranted before any action is taken.
"It's a balancing act," he said. "We can't expect the taxpayers to always cover the cost, and the money has to come from somewhere. We are looking at models to lower taxes, but we just think the students should pay their fair share."
Registration for the fall semester starts April 6. The final budget will be approved in August for fiscal year 2023-24.