This program is designed to encourage persons employed as firefighters or active members of volunteer fire departments to take college courses designed to help them in their work. College educations in the fire service are becoming more and more prevalent each year. It is likely not long before an associate’s degree becomes a mandatory requirement for employment in the fire service, as it is already in effect in some cities and departments across the nation. The College for All Texans offers:
TUITION EXEMPTION for various programs. A complete listing of programs covered under this program has been attached.
To help you in your quest for that higher education here are some frequently asked questions about this program:
• Is this Free School?
No. This program is designed to relieve those involved from paying school Tuition costs. This waiver does not cover other fees generally incurred by students, such as Text Books, Facilities Fees, Lab Fees, and etc.…
§ However, if you are a Distance Education Student, such as someone who attends a college based in Dallas, Texas and you are taking online classes, your selected college may offer a distance education waiver that will excuse you from a large portion of the fees, such as Athletic Fees, Facilities Maintenance Fees, and so on. ** This is up to the school and will vary.
• How much will it cost me?
This will vary by school. Each college has its own set pricing that they follow for separate items. But on average, courses cost about $100 per credit hour. So if you are taking 5 credit hours, you can expect to pay around $500 for that semester (not including books). This is incredibly cheap considering you would pay around $500 -$2,000 per credit hour, without the waiver, based on the school you select.
• Do I have to attend a campus?
While there are participating schools in our area, UTEP & EPCC, the vast majority of schools that accept this program carry online-only courses. But again this varies by the school system and course selection. You will need to look into each school and its programs to determine for sure if they are online or on campus.
• Can I attend Courses not in Texas
No. This program is built and designed for Texas Accredited schools, IN TEXAS. Other states will not accept this waiver.
• What if I already have a degree? May I use this to obtain another?
Yes. At this point, the only eligibility requirements are related to your current status as an “employed” firefighter. The plain language of the current laws will allow for you use this exemption for an additional degree, within the credit limits.
• What will I need for this program?
You will need to verify residency in Texas and have an official statement one department letterhead, from a chief officer, verifying your status with the department.
**Each school may request more information as their admissions or business office requires.
• What are the Eligibility Requirements?
You must be employed as a paid firefighter by a political subdivision of the State of Texas or active members of volunteer fire departments who hold an accredited advanced certification (or the equivalent), under the State Firemen’s and Fire Marshal’s Association of Texas volunteer certification program, OR a Phase V (Firefighter II) certification (or the equivalent) under the Texas Commission of Fire Protection’s voluntary certification program under Section 419.071, Govt. Code.
§ In a nutshell, you must be either S.F.F.M.A. Accredited Advanced or T.C.F.P.
Firefighter II. Both of which, you can obtain from W.V.F.D.
• Is there a Grade Point Requirement for this program?
Yes. Senate Bill 1210 Reads :
As a graduate or undergraduate student maintains a grade point average that satisfies the institution’s grade point average requirement for making satisfactory academic progress toward a degree or certificate in accordance with the institution’s policy regarding eligibility for financial aid.
§ So basically, whatever your selected institution has determined as a minimum
GPA to receive Financial Aid will apply to this program. Most cases that is a 2.0 or 2.5
• This is something I want to do. What now?
Review the attached document containing applicable colleges and programs. Pick a few you are interested in and get in contact with that school. Find out what their requirements are for admission into their particular program. Some require associates degree, others don’t, and they are all different.
Once you meet the institution’s requirements, ask your advisor for this exemption document. They will provide it as well as any other documentation they require for their admissions or business office. Don’t forget to ask about Distance Education Waivers or Fee Waivers for online courses. Once you have done that you will be set.
Ask your advisor about book costs and what they recommend. Often times you may rent your textbooks from certain sites and only spend a fraction of the cost as you would if you purchased them.
Each college will be different and have different requirements for entry and not all of the programs are online. Please contact the admissions office at the campus you are interested in attending and ask for more information on that program.
If you have any further questions please feel free to contact me ReichardtRJ@elpasotexas.gov or 915-203-7848
FST Bobby Reichardt