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  • Staff report

No Tuition Increases, More Scholarships and an Impactful State Bill

Updated: Apr 30

BY ABIGAIL BELL


Tuition rates are not going up, but students can be on the lookout for new scholarship opportunities, and a state bill is providing historical funding for dual credit students.


These changes come as Fernando Flores is officially instated as Vice President of Finance and Administration after serving as interim for the past year.


EPCC VP of Finance Fernando Flores.

Courtesy of EPCC.

 

House Bill 8

 

One of the main changes that Flores is excited to oversee is House Bill 8, which is a new bill that impacts state funding for community colleges.

 

“HB 8 is going to have huge historical impact on how many colleges are funded. For the college, it is reinventing a lot of the course offerings that we have to put them in line with what the state is going to provide appropriations for,” he said.

 

House Bill 8 changes community college’s state funding from a set amount for two years, to the funds being recalculated every year based on performance. The allotment of funds will depend on how the college scores in different elements.

 

“If our measurable outcomes don't hit the prior year, we could have a decrease in appropriation. That's a big change. So, it puts more risk into your budget development process. That's a big difference,” Flores said.

 

House Bill 8 also adds funding for dual credit students. The state is now giving community colleges $55 per credit hour for dual credit hours.

 

“We've never seen that before and we have such a large population of predominantly college high school students. As that grows, we're going to benefit from that so that has a historical nature as well,” he said.

 

Flores pointed out that this means the state is realizing how much community colleges contribute to the Texas labor force and economy.

 

“Community colleges provide close to 50% of the trained labor force,” he said, “If we're going to be a right-to-work state and be an economic juggernaut, you better have a trained labor force.”

 

House Bill 8 is changing how EPCC plans for revenue and budgets, but it will enable the college to continue providing courses, resources, and services to the EPCC community.

 

Student Success Scholarships

 

Flores also gave an update about the $30 million MacKenzie Scott and Dan Jewett National Philanthropic Trust funding from 2001. This funding was saved and created into an endowment that will roll forward in perpetuity. The interest income from this is going to be used to create scholarship for students.

 

“Right now, we're organizing ourselves to form the Administrative Support and Scholarship Committee to award for the first time in fall 2024. That's a pretty big impact to the district,” he said.

 

Flores urges students to be on the lookout for the Student Success Scholarship as it will have a huge impact on students.

 

“They're (EPCC) probably going to award between 200-250 scholarships and they're going to be pretty considerable,” Flores said. “If they're selected, it'll help them get for about two years.”

 

EPCC Budgeting

 

As Vice President over Finances, Flores oversees the entire EPCC budgeting process and fund allotments.

 

A main source of revenue is tuition. Enrollment dipped significantly after the COVID-19 pandemic but is beginning to pick up again.

 

“The college has done pretty well to stop the decline and flatten out the enrollment. We haven't been decreasing anymore, actually, we've been inching back the other way,” he said.

 

Flores also addressed a main concern for many students, which is tuition rates. He does not anticipate a raise in tuition rates for this coming year.

 

The finance team is already far into projecting revenue and completing the budget for this upcoming year.

 

These plans are helping the finance department continue to support maintenance, renovations, student services, and keep EPCC running strong.

 

About Vice President Flores

 

Flores has been acting as interim vice president for the past year and was officially instated on March 5 of this year.

 

He has an extensive background in finance including a bachelor’s degree in business of administration from UTEP and is a certified public account. He has been working with the college for over 40 years.

 

“The secret has been between all those different jobs, is just working with people," he said. "People are so dynamic and different and bring so many different perspectives education, work, experience to the job and that so it never gets boring."

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