Planning continues for ACC’s proposed free tuition program. Since the idea was first introduced in January at the ACC Board of Trustees work session, workgroups have formed, Dr. Lowery-Hart has discussed it at two employee town halls, and an informational website has been created.
What to Know About the Proposal
The proposal will start with a pilot program that includes free tuition for members of the class of 2024, including all high school seniors in the ACC service area who graduate this spring as well as home school graduates, charter school graduates, and GED completers. The college’s ultimate goal is to expand the program to provide free tuition for everyone.
The program is a “first dollar” program — meaning the funds from ACC would be the first dollars students would receive to help cover the costs of college. Students could then apply for additional financial support like Pell grants, financial aid, and scholarships to get additional funding to help cover other college expenses like housing, child care, textbooks, and more.
How It’s Funded
The Chancellor worked with the college’s Budget and Institutional Research offices to develop the initial proposal. Based on the number of 2023 graduates from area high schools and enrollment projections from the college, the pilot program is expected to cost the college approximately $7 million.
A budget analysis shows that funds are already available within the college’s annual budget. The college received $6.8 million in state appropriations through House Bill 8 last year. These funds will be used to help fund core operations at the college — ultimately freeing up dollars to help cover the costs of tuition for eligible students.
Planning With Workgroups
Workgroups are currently in the process of developing the formal plan. The groups are made up of stakeholders from various departments, divisions, and offices of the college. Each group is led by a cabinet member.
The groups are looking at seven specific areas of focus to ensure robust and strategic planning for the program. These groups include:
- Student Tracking: Process Mapping, Operations, Programming
- Intentional Onboarding and Support
- Student Experience: Designing the Student Journey
- Communication: Branding & Marketing the Program
- Financial Aid Strategic Plan
- Future Sustainability: Planning for Expansion of the Program
- Scheduling: Getting Students on a Path to Completion
Watch for more details and updates from each workgroup in the weeks ahead.
The college’s Office of College Relations and Marketing has created materials to share information about the proposal, including a handout and a website with answers to some frequently asked questions.
A formal proposal will be presented to the Board on Monday, February 12. They are expected to vote on the proposal in March.
Information about the Board meetings can be found on the Board of Trustees website.