On April 30, during a special board meeting, trustees approved initiatives designed to provide assistance for students, adjunct faculty, dual enrollment students and school districts during the COVID-19 crisis.
TSC Board of Trustees Chair Adela Garza said during this global pandemic the financial situations of many have changed and many are facing disruptions that could put their education at risk. She explained that the board wants students to be able to move forward with their education and be ready to join the workforce as the Texas economy reopens.
“We will always help our students in any way we can,” she said. “The initiatives are designed to help students get through this difficult time. It’s important for students to know that we, as a college and board of trustees, are here for them and they are not alone.”
First, through the Take 6 On Us initiative, TSC will waive 100% of tuition and fees for up to six summer credit hours for Texas resident students who reside in the college taxing district, and waive 50% of tuition and fees for up to six summer credit hours for all Texas residents who reside outside the TSC taxing district.
“Because of TSC Board of Trustees’ exceptional stewardship of resources, we are in a position to provide financial relief to students who are encountering additional expenses, while helping them stay on track to graduate,” said TSC President Jesus Roberto Rodriguez. “Our summer enrollment is trending 18% above last year, and we want to ensure students maintain momentum in completing their educational goals. We remain firm in our commitment to foster student success.”
The Take 6 On Us initiative is unique in its design because students can keep their full financial aid disbursements—for example, Pell grants—to help with educational materials or other living expenses. This local package complements the $400 per student grants announced Thursday, which qualifying active TSC students will receive beginning May 9 from federal funds designated by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
During the same meeting, the TSC Board passed another initiative to increase adjunct faculty pay through a Summer 2020 stipend. Salaries were increased by $150 per work unit; meaning adjunct faculty teaching a three-hour lecture course will now earn $3,000.
TSC Vice President of Instruction Joanna Kile said the initiative is designed to attract and retain the best instructor talent. It also helps support adjunct instructors and their families facing difficult economic times.
“With summer enrollment trending upward and the Take 6 On Us initiative expected to attract even more students, we want to ensure we have sufficient highly qualified faculty available to meet the demand,” Kile said. “We also know that adjunct faculty often seek extra course loads during the summer months to make ends meet. This initiative will provide a win-win situation for students and adjunct faculty.”
In addition to helping adjunct faculty, the TSC board also approved a Texas Success Initiative (TSI) test fee credit. Students take the TSI test to determine the appropriate level of college course work for them. Students who take the TSI prior to August 31, 2020 and enroll in TSC during the Summer and/or Fall 2020 will receive a $10 credit per section of the test they take, with a maximum of one attempt.
“Because COVID-19 has brought financial challenges to our communities, we wanted to show our support,” said TSC Executive Director of Academic and Student Services Vanessa Vasquez. “Crediting testing fees is another way we are lending a helping hand and giving back to the communities that support the college.”
Rodriguez said TSC is the fastest growing community college in Texas, averaging 41% growth in enrollment from FY2017 to FY2019. The TSC Board of Trustees lowered tuition and fees last summer and continues to seek innovative solutions such as this comprehensive care package to assist students and communities.
“Students need to know their TSC family is here for them. We are their community college and we remain Scorpion Strong,” said Rodriguez.