USF’s slashed budget will most likely result in lower admission rates, faculty and staff layoffs and the cancellation of other services the school has previously provided.

In order to save USF an estimated $45,000-$50,000 this year, the National Student Exchange program was suspended for the year. The program, which allowed students to earn USF credit at other universities and vice versa, became expendable because a campus organizer position needed to be filled for the program and the school was not willing to pay the salary.

Suspending the NSE program is only one example of the penny-pinching occurring at USF. A hiring freeze is in effect and new student admission rates will be adjusted to work within USF’s new constricted budget.

This has led to many discussions of how a school, built to house one of the largest student bodies in the nation, will be able to keep up with higher education standards.

A decrease in state funding could result in attempts by the State University System to recoup lost funds by raising tuition. The Board of Governors is discussing another tuition raise and the current financial crisis.

For many prospective college students who live in Florida and have been planning to attend a public school for the favorable in-state tuition rates, this new development could prevent their access to higher education.

But there is hope on the horizon, particularly for students coming from homes where financial assistance to pay for college is needed most.

After remaining level since 2003, the Federal Pell Grant has been increased by $681 for the upcoming school year. While it may not appear to be a great amount of money, it will go a long way in offsetting the costs of tuition hikes and, as the Pell Grant does not need to be paid back, is a much better option than the burden of student loans.

USF also announced yesterday that it is the recipient of a $2 million gift from Helios Education Foundation. The gift, along with a matching gift from the state, will create the Helios Education Foundation Endowed Scholarship Fund. The total $4 million is one of the largest contributions to USF’s scholarship fund and, according to the University, will be used primarily for students coming from diverse backgrounds and with great economic need.

With the University facing such serious budgetary constraints, it is good to see that efforts are still being made to provide some relief for students who do not have a wide range of options due to their families’ financial situation.