The FAST program provides funding to participating public institutions of higher education so they can offer dual credit courses to educationally disadvantaged students at no cost to these students.
The Texas Education Code (TEC) defines “educationally disadvantaged” as those students eligible for the national free/reduced-price lunch program. A student who meets this requirement in any of the four school years prior to the academic year in which the student is enrolled in the eligible dual credit course may be eligible for the FAST program.
The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) will adopt a maximum tuition rate for dual credit courses each fiscal year that is a condition of an institution’s participation in the FAST program. Institutions that opt-in to participate in the FAST program will receive an allotment of funding equal to the FAST tuition rate for each semester credit hour of dual credit coursework taken by an eligible student. Note that the FAST tuition rate is the maximum tuition rate that a participating institution may charge for all dual credit students attending high school in a Texas school district or charter school who enroll in any eligible dual credit course offered through an institutional agreement, as outlined in Texas Administrative Code (TAC), Section 4.84.
FAST is an optional program available to public institutions of higher education, as defined under TEC, Section 61.003(8). Institutions must complete a program participation agreement (PPA) to either opt-in or opt-out of the FAST program. For more information on this process, refer to the FAST FAQ #20 for more details related to participation for FY 2024.
A current FAST Participation Listing for FY 2024 is available. Please note that institutions can opt-in for the spring 2024 semester until March 15, 2024, at which point this list will be updated.
Students are “eligible students” under the FAST program if they:
- are enrolled in an eligible dual credit course at a public school district or charter school (i.e., eligible for Foundation School Program funding); and
- are taking a course offered through an institutional agreement, as outlined in TAC, Section 4.84, from an institution of higher education that has opted to participate in FAST; and
- were qualified for free/reduced-price lunch in any of the four school years prior to the academic year in which they enroll in the dual credit course.
By statute, the FAST program requires that eligible students at participating institutions incur no cost for their dual credit coursework. An eligible student will not pay tuition and fees for an eligible dual credit course. Books, supplies, and other course materials must also be provided at no cost to an eligible student.
Institutions participating in FAST can only confirm a student’s “educationally disadvantaged” status directly with the THECB which is based on data provided from ISDs and charter schools to the Texas Education Agency (TEA). The THECB has established a process in collaboration with the TEA to allow institutions to upload a file of eligible students enrolled in dual credit courses. The institution will receive a response indicating which students met the “educationally disadvantaged” eligibility requirement in any of the four school years prior to the academic year in which the student is enrolled in the eligible dual credit course. This new system will serve to fulfill the requirements of the TEC, allowing school districts and charter schools to complete their required reporting for FAST via TEA, rather than directly to institutions of higher education.
ALERT: The following memo was sent to institutions on Sept. 1, 2023, which includes a template and instructions on the roster process to confirm a student’s “educationally disadvantaged” status:
Deadline for Roster Submission: Institutions will have until Oct. 15, 2023, to submit the fall rosters for the THECB to confirm students’ educationally disadvantaged status.
The FAST tuition rate adopted by the THECB for FY 2024 is $55 per semester credit hour (or equivalent) and serves two purposes:
- Funding rate: Participating institutions will receive an allotment of funding equal to the FAST tuition rate for each semester credit hour (or equivalent) of dual credit coursework taken by an eligible student.
- Maximum tuition rate: Participating institutions that have an agreement with an ISD or charter school may not charge a per-credit tuition rate more than the FAST tuition rate to any student attending high school in a Texas school district or charter school for any eligible dual credit course offered by the participating institution. Institutions may choose to charge a lower rate for any or all dual credit coursework without impacting the funding rate indicated in #1 above.
Institutions whose tuition rate for dual credit coursework has already been set for the 2023-24 academic year at a rate exceeding the FAST tuition rate will be able to participate in the FAST program upon realigning their tuition rate to not exceed the FAST tuition rate for students attending high school in a Texas school district or charter school.
Participating institutions may charge dual credit students who are not FAST-eligible other costs, such as fees, books, or supplies. However, FAST-eligible students may not incur these charges.
Participating institutions are not prevented from entering into contracts for other course charges, such as fees, books, supplies, or professional development, to be paid for by school districts or charter schools.
The THECB intends to use an institution’s certified enrollment data to determine the amount of funding to be disbursed to the institution each semester.
The THECB will combine the institution’s data with TEA’s data regarding educationally disadvantaged students to generate a report of eligible student enrollments for FAST funding. The THECB would provide the report to institutions for their review and certification, after which THECB would disburse funding to the institution.
This approach eliminates the need for institutions to submit requests for FAST funding. It also eliminates the need for institutions to revise their Financial Aid Database (FAD) submission to include dual credit students.
Courses eligible for FAST funding are those offered through either TEC, Section 130.008, Courses for Joint High School and Junior College Credit (see TAC, Chapter 4, Subchapter D, Rules 4.81–4.85), or other courses offered by a public institution of higher education for which a high school student may earn credit. By statute, the courses must also satisfy at least one of the following:
- A requirement necessary to obtain an associate degree or an industry-recognized credential or certificate (using the definition of industry-recognized credential or certificate that is established for other parts of House Bill 8)
- A foreign language requirement at an institution of higher education
- A core curriculum requirement
- A field of study requirement