Students face tuition increase

Graphics by Andrea Godoy

April 19, 2012

By Chad Fewell | Ranger Reporter

STUDENTS WHO plan to attend Amarillo College in the fall are facing a tuition increase as another effort to handle budget cuts.

In-district students will be faced with a 10 percent increase overall in cost, paying $7 more per credit hour. Out-of-district students will pay $10 more per credit hour, a 9.5 percent increase, and out-of-state students will pay $11 more, a 6.6 percent increase, according to the 2012-2013 tuition and fee proposal the board of regents approved at its regular meeting last month.

The increase was amended to include a $1 tutoring fee to help fund the staffing of AC’s Science and Outreach Centers.

“We don’t take any joy in it, but we have no choice,” said AC president Dr. Paul Matney

“Poverty is usually described as economic hardship, but it’s also got a technical use, and that is to verify where people fall under the poverty line,” said LuLu Cowan, special assistant to the president.

During the 2001-2002 academic school year, 3,502 students out of 8,757 received Pell Grants.

Ten years later, during the 2010-2011 academic school year, 6,084 students of 12,149 students were receiving Pell Grants.

“The poverty threshold for two parents and two children in 2010 was four people living in a family making $22,113 or less a year,” Cowan said.

AC also has opened a website specifically for finding and using resources available both inside the school and in the community.

The Benefit Bank includes Amarillo College and community resources – with numbers and specific details needed – and a list of the top 10 student needs, all available on the website.

“We created our website to link it to other ones that are more extensive because they’ve already got them up and running, they’re well maintained and they keep them current,” Cowan said.

“There isn’t any reason for us to recreate that.”

Identifying the top 10 needs involves more than just some quick steps to find help for a specific case; it’s a go-to place for immediate help.

Shelter, food, transportation and substance abuse, among others, are listed with multiple places of community-based help that constantly are being updated.

Amarillo Independent School District, Central Church of Christ, Faith City Mission and the Region 16 Education Service Center all are available to help those in need.

“What we have found out since starting this mentoring program is that we have a lot of students in need,” Cowan said.

“We really needed someone to be the go-to person that could stay on top of the community in terms of resources for our students.”

Cowan said she and her coaching team went to their leadership team in hopes of finding a social services coordinator.

“There were several of us trying to do that, but we had other jobs as well, and when you have a student in need, that takes priority,” she said. “Other things were falling behind.”

Administrators hope the social services coordinator, who will start work Tuesday, will be the key piece of the student poverty puzzle.

As the lead counselor at Caprock High School, Trudy Banner was hired to fill the position. Cowan said AC is excited to have someone on board with such a good educational background as well as a passion for helping people.

“We will be doing internal education with our students and our employee groups,” Cowan said. “She is going to be a face that is going to be known on campus.”

More information on AC’s efforts to reduce poverty can be found at

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