At the mandate of Gov. Rick Scott and state Legislature, all Florida state universities will hold their tuition steady during the next academic year.
Students at USF will additionally see housing and parking rates stay the same – a move some are calling a welcomed reprieve for students, who have seen tuition rates increase by 91 percent over the past eight years and have seen the sum of all fees paid by undergraduate in-state students increase by 188 percent over the same time span.
Tuition stayed the same last year as well, with in-state undergraduate students paying $211.19, in addition to about $107.83 in fees, per credit hour. Last year university presidents called for a rate of inflation increase set by the consumer price index that was written into law by former Gov. Charlie Crist and meant to be invoked in the years that the state Legislature did not grant tuition increases.
Last year, the rate was 1.7 percent, or about $26 per semester for a full-time student. However, last week the Florida Senate Education Committee moved SB 7036, which would eliminate the rate-of-inflation increases and a university Board of Trustees’ ability to raise differential fees on tuition per year, reducing the amount from 15 percent to 6 percent.
In a Faculty Senate meeting Wednesday, USF Provost Ralph Wilcox said fees, particularly for in-state undergraduate students, are tentatively set to remain the same – including on-campus housing fees, which increased by a weighted average of 3.1 percent last year, and parking fees, which increased by 5 percent last year, except for staff members who saw a 2 percent increase.
At the same meeting, Vice President for Business and Finance Nick Trivunovich said the level rates would be a “great benefit to students,” though the university projects a slight operational loss during the past fiscal year.
Wilcox said the university would continue to grow revenue by maintaining enrollment, but changing the mix of students, increasing the amount of out-of-state and international students, who pay close to three times the tuition rate at the undergraduate level.
Over the past eight years, state universities have additionally seen deep cuts to state funding, including a $300 million cut to the State University System during the 2012 fiscal year. The funding was restored during the last legislatives session in addition to about $150 million in additional funding, some of which was distributed on a performance basis. This year, the governor’s proposed budget includes $118 million in new funding for the State University System.