The 15 percent differential tuition hike isn’t official yet, but it could be before the week is over.
Florida’s Board of Governors will be meeting at UCF Tuesday through Thursday in the Live Oak Center to review the work plan for schools in the state university system, discuss tuition and fee increases, and discuss issues relevant to Florida’s universities.
The fall 2012 differential tuition increase, which was approved by UCF’s Board of Trustees on May 24, will potentially add $19.24 per credit hour and generate $20 million for UCF to go toward courses and programs, and need-based financial aid. Students taking 30 credit hours per academic year should expect an average increase of $663.
Base tuition will remain at $103.32 per credit hour, as set by Florida statutes.
Bright Futures does not cover differential tuition costs, said Maribeth Ehasz, vice president of Student Enrollment and Development Services. Florida Prepaid offers a supplement plan that covers differential tuition, according to myfloridaprepaid.com.
Student Government Association President Cortez Whatley was recently appointed as chairman for the Florida Student Association, which comprises all of Florida’s universities’ student body presidents, and as part of that role he is now a member of the Board of Governors. Whatley said he is the first UCF SGA president to ever be elected as the FSA chairman and he is the only student who is a member of the Board of Governors. Whatley said this role will make it easier for UCF’s concerns to be addressed legislatively and to make changes that will benefit students.
Whatley said he believes the differential tuition will be approved but that the Board of Trustees plans to lobby the legislature so it will hopefully be the last time it has to ask for a 15 percent increase, if any at all.
“Per our institution, I would say that I think we have a greater chance of it passing just because of the necessity of it, and I think from the Board of Governors’ standpoint they will understand without, maybe, this differential tuition passage that our institution will suffer and the value of our degree will suffer,” Whatley said.
Fifteen percent is the maximum any university within Florida’s state university system can raise differential tuition, although a bill was recently vetoed by Gov. Rick Scott that would have allowed the University of Florida and Florida State University to charge a market-rate tuition.
After being persuaded by the student body president, officials from UF have decided to seek a 9 percent increase rather than 15 percent. Out of the 11 universities that will be present at the Board of Governors meeting, UF and the University of South Florida are the only schools not currently seeking the maximum increase — according to USF News, the USF Board of Trustees recommended an 11 percent increase Wednesday. However, Florida Gulf Coast University and Florida Atlantic University have not had their Board of Trustees meetings. New College of Florida had its Board of Trustees meeting on Saturday but hasn’t announced whether its 15 percent increase request was approved.
“This is not an individual institution problem, this is not a UCF problem, this is not a UCF trustee problem; this is a state-wide issue in funding,” Whatley said of the increases across the board.
UCF’s differential tuition has increased by 15 percent each year since 2009. In UCF’s 2012-2013 work plan, differential tuition is projected to increase by 15 percent each academic year through 2015-2016 as well, although those figures are only predictive.
Last year’s increase in differential tuition went toward hiring 23 additional faculty, adding 127 additional courses and allowing for a 20.2 percent increase in the number of students receiving need-based financial aid as well as an increase in those awards, among other things.
Another increase students may see in fall if approved by the Board of Governors is an additional $2 to the capital improvement trust fund fee, which could be used to renovate the recently renamed John C. Hitt Library.
The project is expected to cost $64.1 million and would take between three to five years to finish, said Associate Director for Communications, Assessment and Public Relationsfor UCF Libraries Meg Scharf. Although the proposal has not been finalized, it includes a 9,000-square-foot addition to the back of the Library, which would house a robotic system to retrieve books for students once they are checked out.
Books will be stored in bins from floor to ceiling, and when someone requests a book, the Automated Retrieval System will locate the book and have it ready for the Library patron to pick up within seven to 10 minutes at a designated retrieval point, Scharf said. She said the system is used at academic institutions across the U.S.
Renovations would also be made to existing parts of the Library to allow for more space and seating, a 24-hour study space would be added and a second entrance is planned for the side of the building facing the Student Union.
The CITF is currently $2.44 per credit hour for all UCF students and is used for building construction and repair, according to UCF’s Office of Institutional Research’s website.
The CITF combined with the building fee, which is currently $2.32 per credit hour, are projected to increase by $2 for the next few years, according to the university work plan. By the 2015-2016 academic year the combined fee could be up to $10.33.
The CITF hasn’t been increased since 1989, Ehasz said. She said prior to the decision to ask for the increase, a committee of UCF faculty and students was created to discuss the potential change.
“This discussion about increasing the capital improvement fee has been going on for several years, and it seems to me that it does take some time for changes like this to occur in our legislative process, and so this year there was agreement to move forward,” Ehasz said.
Whatley said that the majority of students on the committee saw the project as a beneficial long-term investment.
“Every year since I’ve been here, students have always asked for a 24-hour Library or some enhancement to the Library, and this was an opportunity for us to finally be able to deliver that to students, something that wouldn’t otherwise be seen,” he said.
Ehasz said that in the past, CITF dollars have gone toward the Career Services Experiental Learning building, the expansion of the Recreation and Wellness Center, expansions to the Student Union and the renovation of Lake Claire. She also said that there are plans to build a Student Union II in another area of campus sometime in the future.
The committee discussion and vote on UCF’s work plan is scheduled to take place from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesday. It will then be discussed and voted on by the full Board of Governors on Thursday. A live blog of the meeting will be available at CentralFloridaFuture.com.