The Freshman Year for Free program is bringing mixed emotions to university officials.
The program is geared toward nontraditional students looking to take free online courses with the goal of passing an Advanced Placement or College Level Examination Program exam to receive credit for required freshman-level courses.
“The Texas State University System is the first public university system in Texas to formally support this program,” said Michael Heintze, associate vice president of enrollment management and marketing.
Shirley Ogletree, psychology senator, said Faculty Senate was not given the option to vote to approve the program, and have thus far played no part in the decision-making process.
“The program doesn’t really change any current policies, just expands the opportunity to get college credit at a lower cost,” Ogletree said.
Some Faculty Senate members have voiced concerns that the online courses will fail to adequately prepare students for the academic rigor of university, she said.
However, Heintze said he remains confident that variability in the quality of participating students’ education will not be an issue.
“If the student successfully passes either the AP or CLEP examination and has a score that qualifies them for Texas State course credit, then they have demonstrated mastery of the subject material,” Heintze said.
Ogletree said some senators are concerned the publicity of the program will “spread misinformation.”
“People might assume they can get an entirely free education or that the program guarantees admission, which is not the case,” Ogletree said.
Although the courses themselves are free of charge, each AP or CLEP exam typically cost between $40-80, Heintze said.
The Freshman Year for Free program’s applicability to Texas State students who have already completed their freshman semesters has been questioned on campus.
According to Modern States Education Alliance, the organization behind the program, Freshman Year for Free was established to encourage nontraditional students to explore their academic interests.
Heintze said it is currently unclear if the program will have an immediate impact on current students.
Simon Vasquez, international studies junior, said he thinks the program will promote fairness among students.
“I came in with close to 30 credit hours just from taking AP (exams) in high school,” Vasquez said. “But I know people who weren’t able to do that, so this is a more economic way for them to catch up.”