BOT approves fee increases
After the USF Board of Trustees (BOT) voted to approve a number of proposals on Thursday, an average full-time undergraduate student at the Tampa campus could now pay an additional $54.60 a year in student fees.
While an undergraduate student enrolled in 30 credits at the Tampa campus paid about $1518.80 in Activities and Services (A&S), health, athletics and Capital Improvement (CITF) fees during the 2012-13 year, next year will see a 37-cent per credit hour increase in A&S fees, a 21-cent per credit hour increase in Health fees and likely a $1.24 per credit hour increase for CITF fees, which must now move to the Board of Governors for approval.
The proposals from the BOT’s Local Fee Committee, comprising three students, three faculty/staff and one chairwoman, were approved as part of a series of consent agenda items at Thursday’s meetings.
Under Florida statutes, a university’s BOT has the authority to raise local fees as long as the sum of the activity and service, health, and athletic fees does not exceed 40 percent of the tuition, and that within the 40 percent, the total increase is capped at 5 percent.
The proposals stated the increases would be used to fund positions in the Office of the Dean for Students, a position of a Physician’s Assistant for the Student Health Services (SHS), a position of a Clinical Case Manager to be shared between SHS and the Counseling Center and funding toward projects including the expansion and renovation of the Marshall Student Center, the Library and future Wellness facilities.
The 37-cent increase will generate an approximate $342,400 in A&S revenue for the Office of the Dean of Students. Currently, students pay a $7 flat fee and an $11.71 per credit hour A&S fee.
“Transferring funding for this Office from (state-funded Education and General revenue) to A&S allows the release of E&G for strategic reallocation in this time of reduced state funding for higher education,” the proposal said.
According to meeting minutes from a Local Fee Committee meeting late last year, Scott Besley, a faculty member of the committee said he “did not like to see increased student fees covering the cost of budget cuts.” The minutes stated Jeff Gao, a student member of the committee and Student Government Senate President, said he agreed and thought that E&G cuts should be filled through other means. Gao said the Office of the Dean of Students was one that was important to all students though.
The Local Fee Committee approved a portion of the 35-cent requested increase in Health fees, stating other requests could be looked into at a later time, and turned down Athletics’ request for a 45-cent per credit hour increase.
In a letter to the Local Fee Committee, Athletics CFO Brett Huebner requested the increase in order to continue providing the same level of student-athlete scholarship as well as adding a learning specialist, trainers and sports psychologist, citing financial pressures in the Big East.
The local fee committee had the authority to recommend up to a $2 increase in CITF fees, but chose to recommend $1.24, after some members questioned the necessity of increasing the fees, according to meeting minutes.
According to minutes, student member Taylor Lockwood said “it was a dangerous precedent to try to mimic other universities with the fee increase when USF should be trying to mimic them academically first,” but Executive Director for Financial Management and Resource Planning Nick Setteducato said “alumni base and community support is low due to USF being relatively young,” and that “there is currently not as high of a legacy as UF or FSU and both of these universities have access to endowments.”
The BOT also voted to approve increasing parking rates by 5 percent for all permit holders, with the exception of staff whose salary is less than $25,000 and Park-and-Ride lots, and to increase on-campus Housing rates by an average of 3 percent. Those rates, along with the CITF, will be moved to the Board of Governors for approval in May.
– Reporting by Divya Kumar