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They’re the Cadillac of courses

Certain courses cost the school more money to offer than others. It’s a fact that every student is aware of without ever having to be told. However, beginning with the Fall semester, some of the highest cost courses will see a small fee increase to cover that funding gap.

The plan, which will appear as “High Cost Program Fee” on student’s accounts, will only affect a select list of courses. Students will see half of the fee implemented in the Fall and the full amount in Spring 2015.

Only students enrolled in high-cost programs will be charged, and the money will be fed directly back into those courses.

“If you’re taking a welding program for example, if you have to take English or Math those aren’t included … only those students that are in those specific programs,” said Vice President of Business Affairs Sarah Van Cleef. “Whether it is because of a constriction of class size, some courses may only have 20 … If there are different faculty-student ratios for the program, like many of our medical, the accredidation body for that specific program dictates that there has to be a five-to-one ratio (of students to teachers).”

There is no set fee for all programs, but students whose majors are included can expect to see anywhere from $2 to $13 increases per credit hour, depending on how much each course is costing the school. Although the individual impact is small, the Business Affairs office anticipates that they will add up enough to maintain the quality of the programs in need.

The fees are also geared toward programs that require much more technology in the learning environment. Graphic Design is one example of the equipment intensive areas of study.

“I think it’s great,” said Andres Breffitt, a graphic design major. “Hopefully we can get some new tablets that are easier to draw on.”

Breffitt is referring to a specific type of tablet computer that certain graphic design courses use, which allow students to simulate drawing with a stylus instead of traditional pencil and paper. These tablets are generally checked out to students in the classes because they are so cost restrictive.

Van Cleef said that the model is set up to avoid blanket fees and will generally affect programs that produce degrees with higher salaries. The fees will also be tailored for each of the programs that fall under its umbrella. The board will evaluate the fee sets in Fall and make necessary changes before rolling out the full amount next Spring.

“It will create a more balanced playing field instead of penalizing the success of (a high cost) program,” said Van Cleef.

Although colleges receive discounts on bulk equipment orders and other necessities like software, these costs can be significant. On top of the regular classroom environment, a design class may need an iMac specifically setup for rendering, the entire Adobe Creative Suite and various other niche items.

According to Adobe’s website, the current cost of “Creative Suite 6 Master Collection Student and Teacher Edition” is $999, which includes licensing for use on two computers.

Apple iMac computers start at $1,199 for the low-end units and can run upward of $4,000 for the Mac Pro series aimed at professionals.

When the Board of Trustees voted on the proposal, their presentation noted that other schools in the area such as Trinity Valley Community College had already implemented similar fees. The success of these programs at other area colleges and universities was one of the factors used in the decision for TJC to go forward with the program.

According to the Department of Education, these targeted fees are a common way for colleges to increase funding for expensive programs as federal or state funding declines.

For most students, these fees will be less than the Student Service Fees that are currently set at $2 per course hour.

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