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Tuition hiked in 12 minutes

It took just 12 minutes Friday for the USF Board of Trustees to approve a tuition increase for out-of-state students.

The increase, which will take effect for the fall semester, comes on the heels of a statewide increase of 5 and 10 percent for undergraduate and graduate students, respectively. With the additional increase, out-of-state students will pay as much as 18 percent more this fall.

Friday’s meeting was classified as an emergency because the next scheduled full board meeting is not until August, which would be too late to implement increases for the fall.

The entire meeting was held by conference call, with USF President Judy Genshaft presenting the resolution from Raliegh, NC.

Genshaft told the board that eight of 11 Florida universities voted to increase tuition. She said the ones that have not are University of West Florida and Gulf Coast University.

“Both of those are looking for enrollment,” Genshaft said. “I don’t really know whether New College has decided to raise their tuition or not.”

BOT chairman Dick Beard told the board that about $2 million of new revenue will be created by the increase. He said that money will be returned to the students. Genshaft and board members did not answer the question of how students who are not living in Florida this summer will be informed of the decision. Michael Reich, director for media relations at USF, said the information was not available before publication.

“Most of those revenues will be used for scholarships for students and to pay for faculty,” Beard told the board. “Again trying to increase the quality of our students and the quality of our faculty.”

Beard said after the meeting that the increased scholarships will bring the best possible students to USF and provide additional monetary incentive to faculty members.

“All of this money will be used to upgrade students and faculty, not that we don’t have a good quality already, but it’ll be plowed back into the university,” Beard said. “If we increase tuition, we’ll be able to increase along with it the amount of scholarships, and pay the best of the faculty a little higher and keep them longer.”

One of the few questions posed during the board’s discussion period on the resolution came from BOT member Margarita Cancio. Cancio, who is a doctor, asked Genshaft if the increase that applied to the USF medical school was the same as the increase at the University of Florida’s medical school, USF’s main competition. Genshaft said the increases were the same.

“We worked with the University of Florida,” Genshaft said. “We would do only what they would do. And they were going to do only what we would do, so that we would be equal to them in terms of tuition. They are raising it as we are.”

With the approval of the resolution, fees will increase, excluding the mandatory A&S fees, from $306.08 to $361.45 per credit hour for nonresident undergraduate students and from $521.73 to $616.88 per credit hour for nonresident graduate students. Those figures are more than six times as much as resident undergraduate students pay and four times as much as resident graduate students pay.

The final vote on the rule was five members for, two against, with two cut off from the conference call before they could vote.

The two board members against the resolution were Connie Mack and USF student body president Mike Griffin. Mack told the board he did not feel comfortable and could not vote for the resolution.

“I frankly don’t feel like I have enough information to answer the situation,” Mack said.

Beard, as the call ended, offered to send Mack information that would make him happy with the situation. Beard said afterward he did not understand why Mack felt unprepared.

“He’s been traveling a lot,” Beard said. “There was plenty of information out there.”

Last fall, there were about 1,300 undergraduate and 900 graduate out-of-state students. Griffin, who directly serves those students, said he has long held that increases nearing 20 percent are too high for one year.

“I support where the money is going; I think it’s going to be beneficial for the students and the university,” Griffin said. “I don’t think it should be as high as it was.”

Griffin said he is also unhappy that there is no financial vision for universities at the statewide level. He said he will continue with efforts to petition the governor about increases.

As for the present, however, Griffin said he wants to make sure the added revenues benefit the students.

“My job is to work with all the different constituencies on campus to hold the administration accountable for where this money is going,” he said.

The BOT will discuss the tuition issue again during its regularly scheduled August meeting. Likely on the agenda will be a vote to increase tuition beyond the fall semester to include the entire 2002-2003 year.