Universities may impose new technology fee

USF students could see an increase in their average annual tuition bill in the form of a technology fee if the presidents of Florida’s 11 public universities have their way.

The creation of a technology fee was made possible by the state’s Board of Governors on Oct. 21 as part of package proposal recommended to Gov. Jeb Bush. One measure in the proposal gives university presidents freedom to determine the types and amount of fees at their universities.

John Cavanaugh, president of both the University of West Florida and the State University Presidents Association, said the proposed fee could pay for new computers, equipment and wireless internet access at all campuses. The fee would vary at each school, but Cavanaugh said the association does not yet know how much the fees would be or how much revenue would be raised.

“Without a regularized source of revenue, there’s no way we can keep up,” Cavanaugh told the Associated Press.

Bijal Chhadva, student body president at USF, countered, “The next thing you know, we’ll have a fee for utilities and a fee to cut the grass.”

University presidents say a technology fee would put four-year schools on the same footing as the state’s community colleges, which have discretion to levy a technology fee. Nine of the state’s 28 community colleges charge the fee of $1.80 per credit.

Scott Ross, the executive director of the Florida Students Association, told the A.P. he considers a technology fee tantamount to another tuition hike.

“We’re concerned this is just another way of getting more tuition out of students,” Ross said.