Increased funding extends free tutoring at Sanger Learning Center

Gracie Awalt

Last spring, the Sanger Learning Center (SLC) removed fees for one-on-one tutoring. Now students can expect the free service to continue due to increased funding.                                                                                  

The SLC received a $50,000 gift from the Betty Stieren Kelso Foundation, a charitable organization located in San Antonio. SLC director Paige Schilt said this donation will fund student tutor wages for the entire school year, which were previously funded by students who paid for tutoring sessions.

“What we’d like to do is get to a point where that funding is sustainable so we can have a sense that tutoring is always free at the Sanger Learning Center,” SLC director Paige Schilt said. 

Before the SLC offered free tutoring, students would be given five free sessions with a tutor and would then have to pay $14 per additional hour. After receiving a $25,000 donation in the spring from The Elizabeth Huth Coates Charitable Foundation of 1992, the SLC began offering unlimited free tutoring. Schilt said freshmen were told at orientation that tutoring was free, which she thinks contributed to increased demand this fall. 

“Students are adjusting to their first semester of college and they need to build the skills to study at a college level,” Schilt said. “Previously, the only take-home message people were getting (from orientation) was ‘I might have to pay.’ Now, we can have this very clear message that it’s unlimited free tutoring.”

Schilt said she used to never see students being tutored at the SLC at 8 a.m. when she would arrive to her office, but now the area is often full of students. The center saw a 56 percent increase in demand in the first five weeks of this semester compared to the same time last fall. Schilt said this semester will determine whether the SLC needs to hire more tutors due to increased demand.

“Students today are struggling with so many different financial pressures that it’s just a relief to not have to talk about fees at all,” Schilt said. “There’s definitely been an increase in the busyness of the tutoring area, and it makes me so happy when I walk by there to see all the students taking advantage of the free resources.”

Geography junior Alissa Lazo-Kim said she started going to tutoring appointments her sophomore year, and she quickly ran out of her five free sessions for her general chemistry course. She said it was difficult to pay for sessions, but since the sessions are now free she can develop a relationship with her tutors. 

“You can make it a personalized experience by selecting a tutor over and over again,” Lazo-Kim said. “I have a couple of relationships with each of my tutors that I’ve repeatedly selected. They know exactly where I’m at, what material we’re going over and how I learn.” 

Computer science senior Uriel Kugelmass, a tutor for computer science courses, believes tutoring should be free so all students have an equal chance of success, no matter how much money they can spend on tutoring. 

“It’s important for UT to offer unlimited tutoring for students,” Kugelmass said. “Students pay a lot of money to attend this university, so I think UT should do anything they can do to provide students with more resources.”