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USF trustees go with the 11-percent solution

Posted Jun 25, 2012 by Lindsay Peterson

Updated Jun 25, 2012 at 06:13 PM

No appeal.

USF is sticking with the 11-percent tuition increase the state university Board of Governors approved last week.

“I think it’s important to go along with the governor’s wishes,” said USF trustee Debbie Sembler in an emergency conference call this afternoon. She was referring to Gov. Rick Scott’s fixed opposition to high tuition increases.

Several other universities had sought a 15-percent increase. USF trustees considered the same two weeks ago, but voted to ask for only 11, saying they were heeding warnings from the Board of Governors that 15 percent was a long shot - even though the lower number will mean at least $4 million less for the university, and less money for financial aid.

Despite those heavy hints from the state university board, it ended up approving 15 percent for four universities last week, Florida Atlantic, Florida International, New College and University of Central Florida.

That led to questions about whether USF would have been granted the 15 if it had asked for it.

Who knows. But at this point, because it asked for 11 percent it might have a tough time appealing for more, as Florida Gulf Coast University is. It asked for 14 percent and got only 12 percent.

During their call today, USF trustees also took the opportunity to polish the university’s image, which took a bit of a hit last week over its graduation rate. It’s 51 percent for students who started as freshmen at USF six years ago.

Fifty one percent is nothing to sneeze at, said Provost Ralph Wilcox.

It’s higher than at FAU and FIU. And it’s higher than at comparable out-of-state schools, University of Alabama, Birmingham, and University of Louisville.

And it’s been rising steadily at USF, while per-student funding has been dropping.

USF has increased the number of graduates with in-demand science and technology degrees, and it’s boosted its research funding also during these tight budget years, trustee chairman John Ramil pointed out.

Ramil’s point was that USF should be proud, though he topped it off with a “we should never be satisfied.”

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