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USF President Judy Genshaft delivered an address on regarding the state of Florida’s impending budget shortfall and how it will impact the University. The estimated $1 billion dollar hit will have a significant effect on the State University System and has already altered the budget of USF.

“We are taking several immediate steps,” Genshaft said. The first step was slashing this semester’s budget by $13 million. The revised budget will follow the same guidelines for the rest of this year, according to Genshaft, resulting in a deduction of $26 million in 2008.

USF is also “immediately placing a freeze on hiring and the purchasing of non-essential items.”

These budget cuts come at a poor time for a university that is trying to take great strides in its academics and research.

When Dr. Stephen Portch assessed USF’s academic situation he found three things that would prevent USF from meeting the requirements of the American Association of Universities (AAU). His list included technology infrastructure, classroom space, and a poor history of cultivating faculty.

These new budget cuts will likely impede any progress toward rectifying those particular shortcomings.

There is a way for the University to recoup these losses, and while it may not be a popular decision, USF should strongly consider a tuition increase.

By increasing annual student tuition not only could lost money be regained, but more could be raised. An additional $1000 per student per school year could bring in more than $40 million, which could be used for infrastructure and faculty.

While most students would likely be dismayed at such a suggestion, they could benefit directly. Primarily, the learning environment would not be hindered by the budget cuts. Building upgrades and quality faculty would enrich the learning experience. Also, if USF were to reach higher academic levels and join the AAU, then degrees would be worth much more to students. This would translate into success for alumni entering the workforce.

A tuition increase might also outweigh the alternatives USF may face while seeking to stimulate its finances. It could prevent dependence on private-sector bailouts, which could hand control of the University to an undesirable source.

As the SUS and USF prepare to face decreasing budgets, it may ultimately be up to the students to carry the burden to ensure that the quality of education does not suffer.