Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Austin Community College sees increase in enrollment after launch of free tuition program

The inside of ACC's campus.
Renne Dominguez
KUT News
Austin Community College has seen increased enrollment for the fall semester since launching its free tuition program.

Austin Community College opened enrollment a month ago for its fall semester. Since then, the district has seen enrollment increase by 23% compared to last year. New student registration is up by 27%.

This surge of new students comes after the launch of ACC’s tuition pilot program, which gives high school graduates in the ACC service area free tuition. The ACC District Board of Trustees approved the pilot program in April. The program will run for five years with no GPA requirements or income restrictions.

“Supporting our students and community with the resources they need to succeed is our top priority,” said Dr. Monique Umphrey, ACC provost and executive vice chancellor of academic and student affairs, in a statement. “We are closely monitoring trends and remain committed to expanding our offerings to ensure we provide the necessary classes and resources to meet our students’ needs.”

Tuition for public two-year institutions in the nation rose by 2.6% for in-district students during 2023-2024. However, tuition and fees have not been raised in a decade at ACC.

Financial planning, increased property values and House Bill 8 played a part in making the pilot program possible, according to an ACC district spokesperson. HB 8 passed last year and funds community colleges based on student outcomes rather than enrollment. The spokesperson said that it’s not simply about getting students in the door.

“It’s about supporting students in more meaningful ways so that they not only come — they persist, graduate, and enter our local workforce with the skills and talents our community needs,” the spokesperson for the ACC district said in a statement.

Students who enroll in the program have three years to complete their associate's degree. Those who complete that initial tuition program are eligible for an additional two years to obtain a bachelor’s degree from ACC — totaling five years of free tuition, according to the college’s website.

Additionally, the college allows and encourages students to apply for financial aid and scholarships to support other college and life expenses such as housing, child care and food.

Students who do not live in the service area but who are in the taxing district are eligible for free tuition. However, students are still responsible for the out-of-district fee of $201 per credit hour.

“The ultimate goal is to make ACC tuition free for all students,” an ACC district spokesperson said in a statement.

High school seniors who graduated in 2024 and those who completed GEDs this year are the first who will qualify for free tuition this fall.

ACC hopes that by eliminating the cost of tuition, it can eliminate a barrier in making college the next step for high school students.

“Then [they’ll] be able to afford to stay in school and complete a degree or certificate and help them find a career that can give them a family-sustaining wage,” the ACC district spokesperson said in a statement.

Fall classes begin on Aug. 26, and ACC encourages students to sign up as soon as possible to secure classes that best work for them.

If you found this reporting valuable, please consider making a donation to support it. Your gift pays for everything you find on Thanks for donating today.

Michelle was born and raised in Austin and loves the emerging Latin music scene in her city.
Related Content