Updated Friday, May 24, 2024

The Austin Community College District (ACC) Board of Trustees approved the ACC Free Tuition pilot program in April 2024. The new program provides FREE tuition and general fees to the high school class of 2024.

It is a five-year pilot that will begin this fall, and it is a step toward the ultimate goal of providing free tuition to everyone.

The college established an informational web page to provide more details about the program and answer frequently asked questions.  

We’re also hearing from faculty and staff. This page is dedicated to answering your questions related to the pilot and will be updated periodically. 

About the Free Tuition Program FAQs

  • Is there an application process?
    • The ACC application process for students remains the same. There are no additional steps or changes in the process.
  • Are CE Programs included in the Free Tuition program?
    • Continuing Education programs are not yet eligible for free tuition. Students can get free tuition and general fees on courses that are part of any ACC credit program that leads to a credit workforce certificate or an associate or bachelor’s degree. Courses that are eligible for transfer to a four-year university also will qualify. Credit certificates or credit occupational awards that are embedded in associate degree programs also qualify.
  • How does the Free Tuition program affect classes that have lab or material fees?
    • Students will still be responsible for unique course fees, including materials and textbooks. 
  • What are we doing to support other students, including current students and adult learners?
    • Our goal is to expand the ACC Free Tuition program to all students, but at this time it remains a pilot program. The college encourages other student populations to apply for other financial support services available. Our options are posted to the college’s financial support website. The FAFSA and TASFA programs are a great place to begin. It is also scholarship season
  • Will members of the Class of ’24 who want to start in the summer be able to get free tuition (prevent summer melt)?
    • To allow for planning and coordination, the ACC Free Tuition program begins fall 2024. Summer 2024 classes are not eligible. 
  • How will the costs of this program be covered?
    • Tuition and fees make up a small part of our annual budget. Currently, the tuition revenue for all direct-to-college high school graduates represents about four percent of the college’s total budget. We estimated the cost for the pilot program in its first year to be approximately $7 million. So, we are able to pay for this program in our existing budget.
    • To grow this pilot and expand it to future student groups, we’re going to rely heavily upon our partnerships in the community. The college is aggressively expanding its development efforts to encourage more corporate, community, and philanthropic partners to invest in the college and the success of our students.
  • What happens to people who have free tuition and drop out or just don’t show up?
    • ACC Free Tuition eliminates tuition costs up-front for at least three years and does not require students to pay back any tuition. However, repayment of financial aid may be required in certain scenarios, such as dropping courses, withdrawing, or failing grades. For more information, visit the Financial Aid website.
  • Will incoming students still need to be TSI-compliant? How will college readiness be determined?
    • Students must still meet the standard college-readiness requirements to enroll. The Texas Success Initiative Assessment (TSIA2) tests determine college readiness in reading, writing, and math. All entering students must take the TSIA2 tests before registering for classes unless they are exempt or meet the minimum scores.
  • Do the students only have the three (or five) years immediately following their graduation to receive free tuition?
    • Eligible high school graduates & GED® completers get three years of free tuition at ACC from the time they graduate to earn up to an associate degree or five years of free tuition if they want to pursue their bachelor’s degree at ACC.
    • The time constraints begin the first fall after a student graduates high school. While a student is not required to enroll during any given semester, they will forfeit free tuition opportunities for that semester if they decide not to enroll. Free tuition benefits will not carry over. 
  • I believe the expectation is that those on free tuition program will be enrolled full time. But I didn’t see a reference to full-time status on the flyer.
    • A student does not have to enroll full time to be eligible for the ACC Free Tuition pilot program, and there are no minimum course credits a student must register for to be eligible. However, we hope that with this financial support, more students can enroll full time. Data show students who enroll full time have higher persistence and completion rates.

  • Do students need to enroll in anything? Once they are registered for fall classes and it comes time for tuition bill payments, does the payment system waive the fee automatically?
    • If a student qualifies for the Free Tuition pilot program, their free tuition will automatically register in our system. There are no additional steps or forms they need to complete. Students will follow our regular application and registration process. They can visit austincc.edu/regsupport for guidance.