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Tuition costs rise

Tuition costs are going to be increased. But after the Board of Trustees meeting Wednesday to discuss the 2002/2003 fiscal year budget, Student Government president Mike Griffin said that’s not necessarily bad news.

“I am only for tuition increases when done appropriately,” Griffin said. “I would have been in here raising a lot more you-know-what if the increases were going to, let’s say, administrative costs. There is a silver lining behind most clouds.”

Instead, Griffin said, all funds from tuition increases would go straight back to students in the form of scholarships. The budget outlines a Legislature-mandated tuition increase of 5 percent for in-state students and 10 percent for those coming from other states.

The increase brings the cost per semester credit hour from $55.67 to $58.45 for in-state undergraduates and from $306.08 to $333.90 for out-of-state undergraduates.

Graduate students are included in the increases. Semester credit hour costs will jump from about $134 to $140 for in-state students and from $522 to $567 for out-of-state students.

According to Griffin the BOT will also apply the full extent of the additional increases provided for in the education appropriations bill. An additional 5 and 10 percent for in-state and out-of-state students, respectively. Griffin said, with the exception of the University of West Florida, all other universities in Florida were applying these additional increases.

The budget discussed Wednesday is a broad overview of the university’s finances and distribution. A more detailed budget will be determined in August.

The 2002/2003 budget totals more than $951 million, $22 million more than last year’s budget before cuts were made.

“So we get to do a lot of pleasurable things in figuring out what to do with this money,” USF President Judy Genshaft said.

But much of the increases will go to help alleviate the effects of those cuts. Genshaft said the university wanted to focus on two things with this year’s budget: attracting the best students and the best professors. Bringing the best professors to USF means offering a higher salary.

“Faculty salaries are so low that it is absolutely necessary to make amends with that,” Genshaft said.

USF faculty members earn less than those at major universities including FSU, UF, UCF and the University of Miami do. USF professors earn about $76,000 over nine months; associate professors make $57,000 over that time period; assistant professors get about $48,000; and instructors earn just over $39,000. Compare that with the University of Miami where professors make $94,000; associate professors get a little less than $64,000; assistant professors bring home nearly $60,000; and instructors make more than $45,000.

Those figures are from The Chronicle of Higher Education and reflect salaries for 2001-2002. The 2002/2003 budget calls for a 2.5 percent increase in faculty salaries exclusive of performance bonuses.

Attracting the best students to USF means not only increasing scholarship funding but also campaigning to bring in the best students from out of state. Griffin said the university hopes to increase out-of-state attendance from the present 5-10 percent to about 16 percent.

The meeting also outlined budget plans for each of the regional campuses.

USF St. Petersburg plans to spend $475,000 on expansion of academic programs. This includes providing additional full undergraduate and graduate degree programs. The campus will dedicate $500,000 to academic and student support services that will recruit, advise and retain students as well as provide lab and technological equipment. Another $615,000 will go to such things as providing support staff and operating funds for academic administration. Much of the remaining $1.2 million will go to temporary buildings, increased utility costs and services to ensure student and faculty safety.

USF Sarasota/Manatee will spend nearly $1.9 million to increase enrollment and hire faculty for some of the most stressed areas including: English, education and finance. Another $148,000 will be dedicated to facility planning and expansion, especially for faculty office space, and $672,000 will go to such things as student services, budget management, insurance and utilities. The campus will also create a reserve fund for tuition shortfalls or budget reductions.

USF Lakeland echoed the need for more space and plans to install temporary buildings. The campus will allocate nearly $520,000 to install and support the buildings and, in the fashion of St. Pete, will provide more services to ensure safety. Nearly $1.4 million will provide additional undergraduate and graduate programs and advertise the campus. Students will be recruited and equipment purchased with another $767,456.

The USF capital budget, which is strictly for construction, totals $48.6 million. The Florida Alzheimer’s Center and Research Institute gets $20 million of that, and the Lakeland Campus receives $5 million. The remaining funds will go to a Health Care & Education Center ($15.6 million) a Natural and Environmental Sciences Building ($1.7 million) and remodeling of the chemistry building ($6,250,000).