Board approves tuition increase

USF will increase tuition rates in the fall in line with recommendations made by the state Legislature. On Thursday the Board of Trustees approved a 5 percent increase in tuition for undergraduates.

With the increase, students taking 12 credit hours will have to pay an extra $62 per semester. USF has the second-highest public school tuition for in-state students.

The BOT delayed a decision on increases for out-of-state, graduate and international students.

“As far as tuition and fees go, they will always be a nemesis to students,” student body President Maxon Victor said. “It’s going to be our foe for years to come. Hurry up and graduate, college isn’t getting any cheaper.”

The tuition increase is slightly less than in the previous two academic years. In both 2003 and 2004, the tuition rate for undergraduates increased by 7.5 percent.

“(Student Government) did fight for it to be only 5 percent; they initially requested a 7.5 percent increase in the state Legislature,” former student body President Bijal Chhadva said. “We went to Tallahassee to bring it down to 5 percent and accomplished that. Ideally, it would be great to have no tuition increase, but 5 percent is better than 7.5 percent.”

The Florida Senate agreed to lower the tuition proposal by 2.5 percent after lobbying by Florida Student Association representative Mike Fischer and student governments across the state.

“Fischer showed us a report that said the tuition increase was possibly going to be 9 percent,” Victor said. “It’s refreshing to know that there has been effective lobbying. We’ll take it as a victory. An increase is always a problem, but 5 percent instead of 9 percent is a victory.”

The increase, coupled with the rising rates of on-campus housing could have an effect on incoming freshmen’s pocketbooks. According to the USF Web site, 42 percent of all incoming freshmen live on campus. However, incoming freshmen won’t be the only students affected by the increases.

“I think the housing rate increase will affect a lot of people,” Chhadva said. “I understand that we are trying to expand housing, but I think the rates are getting really high. The surrounding apartment complexes off campus are a lot cheaper than on-campus housing. I think we need to watch our rates. Incoming freshmen have been informed about the increase, so it affects current students more.”

Housing rates will rise from 3.5 to 4 percent; however, more amenities will be included with on-campus living, including 70-channel cable for all residents.

For example, an incoming freshman living in a Cypress double room for the year is looking at an extra $234 annually.

Financial aid awards should compensate for students who receive financial aid, but students who do not receive financial assistance will foot the bill themselves.

“Students with Bright Futures or financial aid won’t be affected as much as students who pay out of their own pockets,” Chhadva said.

This year, the Legislature gave state university BOTs the ability to set their own tuition rates for out-of-state, international and graduate students. It is not known how much tuition will be raised for those classifications. USF boasts the highest number of transfer students in the country and has students from more than 100 countries.

“If they would keep the rates at a minimum that would be a dream come true,” Victor said. “There is nothing welcoming about attending a university in America with all the fees for international students. It’s more repelling than attractive. If we can keep (tuition increases) to a minimum, we’ll get more students and welcome more diversity on campus. If we want to be recognized worldwide, then we have to welcome worldwide.”