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BOT puts tuition vote on hold

USF’s Board of Trustees decided on Thursday to delay a vote that could raise tuition for graduate and out-of-state students in order to increase faculty salary.

During its most recent session, the Florida Legislature mandated a 7.5 percent tuition increase for in-state undergraduate students and a 12.5 percent increase for graduate and out-of-state undergraduate students.

The mandate left state universities with the option of raising tuition another 2.5 percent for graduate and out-of-state students, an option that Carl Carlucci, USF’s chief financial officer, told The Tampa Tribune would mean $532,000 more for the university.

Carlucci could not be reached this weekend.

Also at Thursday’s meeting, the BOT voted to continue the $50-per-semester fee paid by all international students to fund implementation of the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. International students were first required to pay the fee last fall when it was implemented without a BOT vote.

The SEVIS program requires all U.S. schools to provide information on the location and academic progress of foreign students to the Department of Homeland Security.

The fee was approved despite objections from student body president and BOT member Bijal Chhadva, who spoke against approving the fee, saying the Board should further investigate other means of funding the SEVIS program before making a decision.

Chhadva proposed that the cost, about $210,000, be divided among USF’s 42,000 students.

“We really need to look into it more and take it back to the workgroup,” Chhadva said Sunday night in an interview. “I don’t know at this point if spreading the fee out among all students is the right way to do it, but that’s why we need to examine it a little better in the workgroup.”

Chhadva also said he opposes the increased tuition measures, calling the hikes unnecessary.

“I’m definitely against it,” he said. “I don’t see much of a reason behind the increase. Inflation is not that high and it’s not like the facilities on the campus are improving dramatically.”

Other activities during Thursday’s meeting included: the Trustees voted to increase residence hall fees by 6 percent, effective as of August; the BOT voted to raise the parking fee for students living on campus from $105 a year to $130. The fee for students living off campus will remain $105.

“For the increased housing fees, they had really good reason,” Chhadva said. “They said increased gas prices caused an increase in the cost of electricity, so it was something that had to be addressed.

“As for the parking: I know this is something (former student body president Omar Khan) fought very hard. Initially they wanted to increase it by much more, but we — or Omar, really — got it cut down to this.”