According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, USF’s in-state tuition during the 2008-09 academic year was $3,906 for 12 credit hours – slightly higher than Florida State University, at $3,799 and the University of Florida, which charged $3,790.
But now, all public Florida institutions will see a flat 8 percent increase in tuition, approved by the Florida Board of Governors, and an additional 7 percent increase issued by the universities themselves – totaling to a 15 percent hike this fall.
“The 8 percent is general revenue amount. We can put that anywhere,” said Michael Moore, associate vice president of Decision Support and Academic Budgets. “The differential tuition is directed for undergraduate education.”
Moore said that 30 percent of the additional 7 percent asked for by universities will go to Financial Aid and the rest will be used to keep classes available and maintain faculty ratios.
“The tuition increase is so crucial in replacing the loss in state allocation that without it we would have had layoffs, cancellation of classes and we might have had the cancellation of entire programs,” said Dwayne Smith, senior vice provost.
USF is no stranger to budget cuts. In spring 2008, USF President Judy Genshaft announced a plan to cut $13 million – creating a $26 million base budget cut for the 2008-09 fiscal year.
Universities base their budgets on an allocation from the state and from students’ tuition, said Smith. “The proportion that the state allocated has been dwindling … Student tuition accounted for about 18 percent (of the University budget) around 2007 is up to about 34 percent of the current budget.”
Smith said that since 2007, the University has received about one-third less in funding from state appropriations.
However, a 2009 survey issued by the Higher Education Finance Report compared net tuition revenue and appropriations for full-time students with at least 12 credit hours across the country and showed that, while Florida’s tuition average was lower than the rest of the country’s, the amount allocated to universities from the Florida Legislature reached the average given throughout other states.
The Florida Board of Governors’ State University System lists Florida as the 48th lowest state in undergraduate tuition and fees, ahead of only Louisiana and Wyoming – a fact Smith said proves Florida’s rates are “not low, but rock bottom.”
“Students pay rock bottom tuition, and combined with what is only an average state appropriation, Florida schools operate with what could be called a shoe-string budget,” Smith said. “Florida education is probably among the best bargain in the country right now.”