On Oct. 26, Gov. Charlie Crist signed a bill that permits university trustees to enact a 5 percent increase at their respective institutions.
USF’s governing body, the Board of Trustees, acted swiftly and took advantage of this power Tuesday, approving a 5 percent increase that will be enacted in January.
Considering that USF and other state colleges are reeling from budget cuts this fall and have been put on notice that $100 million more in cuts from the state are likely on the way, the move could not have come at a better time.
Public colleges and universities across Florida have cut classes and crammed far too many students into the remaining sections, arguably decreasing the overall quality of education.
Think about it like this: fewer classes mean that more students are vying for fewer slots in an increasingly small pool of professors and support services.
It’s only logical that students can expect to receive less under such a set-up.
In the context of USF specifically, this newly approved money could be used to repair the damage wrought from shortfalls.
Consider how addressing some of these issues could boost USF’s chances of getting into the American Association of Universities, a major goal outlined in its five-year plan.
Sufficient class-section offerings mean that students are more likely to take the classes they need to graduate, which will likely boost four-year and overall graduation rates. This is of particular importance in light of new rules that tie funding from the state more closely to matriculation rates.
Budget cuts, quite obviously, derail this aim, so it’s only natural to put it back on track with the new-found cash that will be provided by the tuition increase.
In addition to this increase, USF students should support a differential tuition plan passed in June, which would allow the University of Florida and Florida State University to increase their tuition up to 40 percent and would allow USF to raise its tuition up to 30 percent. The differential tuition would likely take effect in Fall 2008, and would apply to incoming freshmen and the classes that follow.
Although the difference between differential tuition costs and that of lower-priced SUS institutions would not be covered by the Florida Bright Futures scholarship programs, it’s unreasonable that any college student attending one of the three best public universities in the state should not be similarly willing to pay the necessary costs for a top-notch education.