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Timeline for tuition increase in the works

The economy is still on the rebound since last year’s terrorist attacks. And the chances that students will have a higher tuition bill in the fall have increased because of it.

But when the hike will be implemented has yet to be decided.Jeff Muir, a lobbyist for USF, said since Sept. 11, there are more possibilities for an increase in tuition.

“Since Sept. 11, the economy has been poor, and until there is a significant improvement, the tuition increase will be a distinct possibility,” Muir said.

As of early March, Muir said the Legislature had not passed the proposed budget for USF.

“We are waiting on the conference committee which would make the decision that would go into effect July 1,” Muir said.

Although it is uncertain when the increase would go into effect, Muir said it would likely be for the 2003-04 academic school year.Currently, the Legislature is focusing on education reorganization and will work on the budget at a later date. Muir said he expects the reorganization to be looked at before the budget.

“It is uncertain as to when the governor will call the next special session to deal with the budget. No one is sure, and there is some interest in waiting until May instead of scheduling it for April,” Muir said. “In May there would be a clearer idea of the shape of the economy and if the revenue projections will be higher or lower.”

Muir said that the governor is not interested in waiting that long, and he would like to have the decision made quickly. He said he is concerned about how the increase will affect students receiving need-based financial aid.

“It’s very important that we make sure the State University System makes any corresponding increases in financial aid to soften the impact for students in need,” Muir said. “We don’t want anyone to miss out on the opportunity to go to college.”

Mike Griffin, student body president and a Board of Trustees member, said that the increase is being done from a financial standpoint. Griffin said that the Legislature and Florida Board of Education encourage a five percent increase. And each year, Griffin said students take a position on a zero percent increase, while the state had recommended a double-digit increase in the past.

“I advocate a zero percent increase, but I foresee a five percent increase,” Griffin said, “If the university can show the students where the money goes, for example for classroom technology, the increase would be accepted easier.”

Griffin said that Student Government and the students lead the drive as far as lobbying is concerned.

“The biggest focus is protecting the academia, not just in the classroom, but the support services, like financial aid and the Library,” Griffin said.

Griffin said students should be able to sit down with the administration and see where the additional money is going.

“If it’s 5 percent, we want to have the students have a voice in where it goes,” Griffin said. “The tuition increase will be manageable as long as the students have a voice.”

Contact Kelly Icardiat