Victor begins term with tuition changes looming

Having assumed the role of student body president at the end of last semester, Maxon Victor, like all new student body presidents across the state, is taking his place on the Board of Trustees at a time when major changes are being implemented.

Beginning in the fall, barring Gov. Jeb Bush’s veto of the 2005-06 budget, students will be forced to pay a block tuition rate for their credits along with a tuition-and-fee surcharge for excess credit hours. The provision does not state whether universities will have to adhere to the state’s block-tuition system or will be able to set their own.

The state promoted setting block tuition at 12 credit hours. If the decision were left to each university’s BOT, USF would set the block tuition standard at 14 credits and above. Maxon is hoping the latter will be chosen.

“We are primarily a commuter school,” student body President Maxon Victor said. “There is a reason why some students can only take 12. They may have other things in life that do not let them dedicate full time to their degree. How can we accommodate a block tuition rate? I think it will have more of a repelling effect than attractiveness.”

Moving the credit limit up to 14 hours would benefit USF’s many commuter students who may only have the ability to take 12 hours a semester. Block tuition is designed to move students toward their degrees in a timely manner, but it could have an adverse affect if students choose to sign up for only 11 hours per semester. Staying below the 12-hour cap set by the state would allow students to be charged per credit hour.

Under the system favored by the Legislature students would be charged a flat rate for credit hours if they take 12 or more credit hours set by either the Board of Governors or the individual university’s Board of Trustees.

A student who registers for 12 credit hours would be charged a flat rate equivalent to 15 credit hours. If the student then chose to take 15 hours or more, the rate would not change. Eighteen hours would cost the same as 15 hours.

After language was passed regarding block tuition, each state university released a response regarding its position on the issue.

Bush released his budget to the state Legislature in early January, including a proposal for an excess credit-hour fee to be assessed if students go above 115 percent of their degree requirements. With the assistance of Florida Student Association representative Mike Fischer, USF’s Student Government was able to lobby the Senate into increasing that number to 120 percent.

The Excess Credit Hour Bill was passed to push students through the university system faster without abusing the amount of credits they take prior to graduation. While it may ease some students into a faster graduation, Victor notes some drawbacks.

“I recognize the intention of excess credit-hour fees, but realistically I feel like college is an experience — not just the textbooks, but yourself and how to live and function,” Victor said. “When it comes to learning how to be a person, it’s more than how many credits you take. A college experience is not limited to 120 percent of credits for a degree. I’m fully in support of students graduating in a timely manner, but I also want students to find themselves. Take what you think meets your interests, but if you have 120 percent to figure it out, I don’t think it’s fair. It may take someone three years to figure out what they want to do.”