Gnage favors tuition bill

PARKERSBURG – As West Virginia colleges and universities try to account for Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s 7.5 percent budget cuts, a bill in the state Senate would let six of them change how they calculate tuition.

The bill would create a pilot program that lets those schools charge tuition by the credit hour rather than by the semester. It would likely result in significant increases in tuition for full-time students, and decreases in tuition for part-time students.

West Virginia University at Parkersburg President Marie Foster Gnage approves the idea, stating the costs between full-time and part-time students need to be more equitable.

“Our tuition is reasonable, and it becomes even more reasonable for those students paying for 12 hours and taking advantage more – sometimes up to 21 hours per semester,” she said. “Faculty still have to be paid, and support services still need to be provided for those classes that are, in essence, free.”

The bill was requested by Pierpont Community and Technical College, which has pledged to reduce tuition rates if the bill passes.

Gnage said all of the community college presidents were part of a discussion concerning the topic. Up to two other community colleges and three four-year colleges could participate in the program.

If they did not correspondingly reduce tuition rates, the changes would mean substantial tuition increases for full-time students.

WVU-P has 2,142 full-time students this semester and 1,285 part-time students, according to WVU-P spokeswoman Katie Wootten.

“On the other hand, you have part-time students paying per credit hour, which ends up being more than full-time students,” Gnage said. “We need to figure out a way to make the cost equitable without challenging the ability of the institution to offer quality education with decreased funding. Some colleges charge more per credit hour for tuition, so now they have some room to decrease their tuition if they go with this model. The concern is always whether it will cause a decrease in attendance.”