Student success was the top priority in Stephen F. Austin State University’s Board of Regents January meeting. The board approved a number of initiatives aimed at reducing student debt and increasing the opportunity for timely degree completion.

Undergraduate students will now have the option to participate in a fixed-rate tuition and fee plan, allowing them to take up to 21 credit hours at the cost of 12 hours with no additional charge. Tuition and fee rates are variable for students who enroll in one to 11 semester credit hours, but transition to a flat rate at 12 semester credit hours.

The plan is a part of an emphasis the university is placing on its “15 to finish” program.

“By incentivizing students to take additional semester credit hours, the fixed-rate plan will help lower student debt levels, decrease the time to graduation and provide greater academic flexibility,” said Dr. Danny Gallant, vice president for finance and administration. “It will create more cost transparency for students and families and simplify the billing process.”

Additionally, students entering SFA in the fall have access to a guaranteed price plan that freezes tuition and mandatory fee costs for a period of four years.

“Timely degree completion reduces the cost of a four-year degree and allows students to begin their careers and capitalize on their lifetime earning potential,” said Dr. Scott Gordon, SFA president. “We are looking at every possible option to make college more accessible and affordable for our students, including a variety of course delivery modes that will allow us to most effectively meet students where they are.”

Regents also approved the consolidation of various fees into a flat tuition charge of $100 per semester for undergraduate students and $75 per semester for graduate students, in an effort designed to simplify the billing process and provide greater academic course delivery flexibility.

“This will replace all course and lab fees for undergraduate and graduate students and will provide the same average level of income,” Gallant said. “It will allow students and their families to better calculate what their expenses will be.”

Scarleth Lopez, a senior psychology major from Dayton and president of SFA’s Student Government Association, believes SFA students will appreciate the initiatives approved by regents.

“I believe this will be really beneficial, especially for first-generation students,” Lopez said. “It will reduce the uncertainty that they may feel about college and incentivize them to take course loads that allow them to reach their goals in a timely manner.”  

Regents also approved a price reduction for SFA’s program for registered nurses seeking a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Cost for the 31-semester credit hour online program will be $8,300 for participants who complete the program within four years.