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USF trustees approve tuition hike, 11 percent instead of 15 percent
Posted Jun 14, 2012 by Lindsay Peterson
Updated Jun 14, 2012 at 12:18 PM
USF trustees have approved an 11 percent undergraduate tuition increase, less than the 15 percent proposed earlier.
It means that USF will have $4 million less than expected, after suffering a $50 million cut from the Legislature.
State lawmakers proposed no tuition hike, but a law passed five years ago gives the universities the option to raise tuition up to 15 percent. State lawmakers assumed when they cut the universities this year that they would pass a 15 percent increase.
Florida’s state university tuition is already near the bottom nationally. USF’s is below all other research universities nationwide.
Some trustees protested the proposed 11 percent as being too small.
USF is already on the “tipping point” of losing its quality edge, said trustee Elizabeth Bird, the faculty representative on the board.
“It’s time we stood up to the politicians and said this is what we need.”
But Provost Ralph Wilcox said after discussions with students, staff decided the burden of 15 percent was too great.
Trustee Brian Lamb said that the staff had taken a hard look at what it could justify from the ground up, and that figure was 11 percent.
Bird continued to protest, saying that USF’s budget was built around the assumption of a 15 percent increase.
Gov. Rick Scott has made it clear that he does not want a tuition increase, even though the university budgets were cut by $300 million this year.
The Board of Governors, most appointed by the governor, has also put out the message that it will be taking a hard look a tuition proposals when the board meets next week.
All the other state universities have proposed a 15 percent increase, except for the University of Florida, which is asking for only a 9 percent increase. UF is also asking for a waiver to the requirement that it use at least 30 percent of its tuition increase on financial aid.
Wilcox called USF’s plan a “bare bones” proposal, less than 30 minutes after telling the board at length that USF’s gains cannont be sustained with the level of budget cuts the university has sustained over the past several years.
Bird said it was worse than bare bones.
Long time trustee Rhea Law agreed, though in the end she supported the 11 percent.
“We should be trying to elevate and meet the goals set for this institution” not telling the Board of Governors and the community that USF doesn’t need more.
The problem, however, is that the Legislature has steadily been shifting the costs of a university education from taxpayers to families by cutting state funding while imposing tuition hikes, said trustee chairman John Ramil.
“We are giving the state government cover by continuing to raise tuition,” he said, adding that is needs to stop because families can’t bear it.
Earlier in the day, however, the board did approve a fee hike for USF Tampa students.
If approved by the state Board of Governors, it will raise per credit hour fees by $2. The increase would boost building and construction student fees to $6.76 per hour.
It’s a lot of money but it will be the only money coming to the university for building improvements, since the state has cut off funding available for capital spending.
The committee that recommended the fee increase also had recommendations on how to spend it. About half of the $18.5 million they expect to raise, it said, should go to plans to add three floors to the Marshall Center.
The rest would go to recreation improvements, including a pool complex and fitness center renovation.