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Electronic Course Fee

In November of 2005, The Texas State University System Board of Regents approved the electronic course fee (ECF) to ensure adequate funding for the development and maintenance of courses delivered through electronic media. Students enrolled in courses that are coded "fully distance education" or "hybrid/blended" pay $50 per semester credit hour (SCH) in additional fees to support the development, delivery and maintenance of fully online and hybrid courses.

Below you will find frequently asked questions (FAQ). If the FAQ does not have the answer to your question or you seek additional clarification or guidance, please contact Dana Ortiz via email at do15@txstate.edu or by phone at 512.245.7965.

 

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  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

    • Administration of ECF

      • In order for a course to trigger ECF the location must be coded off campus and the instructional method must be coded either fully distance education (INT) or hybrid/blended (HYB) in the Schedule of Classes. Additionally, it is important to check that the total fee provided in the course description in the Schedule of Classes is correct. 

      • In a fully online course, mandatory face-to-face sessions may comprise no more than 15 percent of the total planned instructional time for the course. Examples of face-to-face sessions include orientation, laboratory, exam review, or an in-person test.

        Hybrid courses are those courses in which a majority (more than 50 percent but less than 85 percent) of the total planned instructional time for the course occurs when the students and instructor are not in the same place. Mandatory face-to-face sessions may total up to 49 percent of planned instructional time.

      • In early March, academic units with anticipated distance and hybrid course activity will be asked to develop an ECF budget for the coming fiscal year. Estimates of revenue, a budget template, an ECF Budget Guidance document, and other supporting budget development aids will be distributed by the Office of Distance and Extended Learning and Faculty and Academic Resources. Draft budgets will be submitted in early April to the Office of Distance and Extended Learning. Once reviewed and approved, these budgets will be funded from ECF revenue.

        ECF also funds budgets for central administration of distance and hybrid learning in support of services such as instructional design and course development, faculty professional development, student support services, standards and compliance activity, quality assurance, and some technology services. More information is available in the ECF Budget Guidance document and specific questions may be answered by contacting Dana Ortiz at do15@txstate.edu or 512-245-7965.

      • Notification about funded budgets for ECF and how they can accessed will be distributed with budget approval. Questions about ECF accounts may be directed to Dana Ortiz at do15@txstate.edu or 512-245-7965.

      • Yes, faculty members teaching online are required to: (1) participate in a professional development/training program; and (2) submit a Best Practices Checklist every three years for each online course taught. More information on professional development and training opportunities can be found on the Faculty Development Requirements for Online Teaching page.

      • While the AVPAA office provides recommendations and guidance, each department budgeted to use ECF is fully responsible for all account activity and must maintain records that clearly identify the relationship between expenses and the development, maintenance and delivery of distance education.

    • How can ECF funds be used?

      • The duties and responsibilities of all faculty paid by ECF budgets must be directly tied to fully distance and/or hybrid courses and programs, and the cost distribution of ECF funded positions should align with the percentage of time occupied by those duties.

        Graduate assistant and teaching assistant positions may be supported by ECF provided that the activities of these graduate students are directly related to the development, maintenance, and delivery of distance education. For example, teaching assistants may be employed to scale distance and hybrid course sections while preserving quality instruction in much the same way as is traditionally done in face-to-face teaching modes.

        Staff positions must be approved prior to funding from ECF. Funding staff positions using ECF should be treated as an unusual request. Proposed staff tasks should not duplicate the services provided by the Office of Distance and Extended Learning or other university offices supporting distance learning including The Graduate College, Student Learning Assistance Center (SLAC), Undergraduate Admissions, Testing, Evaluation, and Measurement Center (TEMC), Disability Services, academic advising centers, and the Information Technology Assistance Center (ITAC).This includes support for instructional design, course development, many student support services, and faculty professional development. 

        Funding positions (in whole or part) using ECF should be documented in the annual budget development process. ECF budgets will be developed and funded based on best estimates of ECF revenue. Notice of significant changes from expected to actual revenues will be sent when appropriate with additional budget guidance. Departments exceeding approved budgets are responsible for securing funding from other sources to meet encumbrances.

      • All travel-related and M&O expenses must be directly attributable to the development, maintenance, and delivery of fully distance and hybrid courses. Appropriate expenses can include but are not limited to: travel to an online teaching conference; membership in an online teaching or distance education professional organization; fees to complete certification in online teaching; and subscriptions for literature related to online teaching.

      • Electronic course fees should not be used for expenditures related to the recruitment, enrollment, or assistance of prospective Texas State students.

      • ECF Funds may be used to purchase computer equipment and software for faculty who teach fully distance and hybrid courses. ECF funds may also be used to provide software, learning support and other resources for students enrolled in fully distance or hybrid courses.

      • Generally speaking, ECF funds may be used for expenditures related to the acquisition of public-use computer equipment or construction of lab space if the expenditure expands student access to distance courses or improves a department's capacity to provide online or hybrid courses.

        Purchases of equipment and other one-time, non-salary expenses where the project cost is in excess of $15,000 ( e.g. DLP classroom enhancements) should be discussed with the AVPAA's office via the Assistant Vice President for ODEL before proceeding to budgeting. An online request form is available on the Distance and Extended Learning website: https://www.distancelearning.txstate.edu/faculty/ECF-CapExp-Info.html.

        Instructions with the form provide additional guidance. All projects of this type must submit the online form and, if approved, be included in the annual budget. This process ensures adequate communication with critical stakeholders such as Information Technology, facilities, and the Office of the University Registrar.

Electronic Course Fee