BOT increases tuition for grad students

Tuition for in-state graduates students will increase by 5 percent starting in the fall, but there will be no increase for out-of-state undergraduates or graduate students for the 2005-2006 academic year.

The Board of Trustees approved the hike for in-state graduates during a telephone conference call Tuesday. Tuition for in-state undergraduates was increased in line with the Legislature’s 5 percent recommendation in May.

The increase means that the cost per credit hour for in-state graduates students will increase from $233.07 to $244.72. A student taking 12 credit hours will pay an extra $146.83 per semester.

Student body president Maxon Victor voted against the increase. Maxon said the extra financial burden on graduate students was unfair and worked against USF’s goal of increasing graduate student enrollment.

“We forget that graduate students have lives outside of USF,” Victor said. “Many of them have families, and it’s hard to afford it.”

Also voting against the increase was BOT chairman Dick Beard, but for different reasons.

“I didn’t think it was enough,” Beard said. “The issue for me was there was information that wasn’t available at the time of the meeting which was related to how many students were at USF that were in-state graduates and how many people apply and are turned away. I wanted to have that information.”

Beard said the BOT had been asked to implement the increase at short notice by the Board of Governors.

E.J. Ford, co-president of the USF chapter of the state’s graduate assistants union Graduate Assistants United, said the increase would wipe out the benefits the union has recently negotiated.

“A 5 percent increase is a greater increase than what has been under discussion for assistantships across the state,” Ford said. “Needless to say that means a net loss for graduate students.”

Ford also criticized the timing of the increase.

“Grad students have already signed letters of commitment to come into the university, and now they’re going to jack up the tuition on them,” he said. “And the campus is pretty much empty of grad students for the most part so most of them won’t find out about the increase until they get their bill in the fall.”

After enduring a 15 percent tuition increase in 2004, out-of-state undergraduate students’ tuition will remain at 2004-2005 levels for the next academic year. Beard said the BOT decided that any increase would make USF unattractive to students from outside Florida.

“The reason is basically because in-state fees are at the bottom or in the lower quartile, but our out-of-state fees are dramatically higher than what they are for competing institutions,” Beard said.