Tuition increase said to benefit financial aid and advising

Photo by 401(k)2012 courtesy of CC.

Rebeca Piccardo/Contributing Writer

State universities will experience a 1.7 percent tuition increase for the 2013-2014 academic year, an automatic inflation adjustment triggered by Gov. Rick Scott’s veto of a 3 percent increase.

The increase will equal a $1.75 increase per credit hour, or an extra $21 a semester for a student enrolled in 12 credits.

Gov. Scott is lobbying for universities to cut tuition rates by the same percentage to prevent tuition hikes for students, but University officials said the revenue is needed to compensate for losses generated by the downturn in the economy and state budget cuts.

The revenue will increase funds financial aid and employment at the university at a cost of less than $2.00 per credit hour.

The Miami Herald reported that the automatic tuition increase is being triggered because larger tuition has been written into previous budgets approved by the Board of Governors.

Due to an annual work plan meeting, members from the Board of Governors were unavailable for comment by press time.

“The state seems to be restoring money that was cut before and may be providing some additional money beyond that,” said Vice President of Governmental Relations Steve Sauls in an interview with Student Media. “Some of that might be a small tuition increase.”

Dr. Ken Jessel, senior vice president and chief financial officer of the Board of Trustees, said the university estimates the increase will generate approximately $1,600,000 in additional revenue.

“The university has to be able to maintain itself,” said Francesa Rosario, junior journalism major. “[It] has to charge accordingly and tuition fees must reflect the state of the economy.”

Florida state law requires that resident undergraduate tuition per credit hour increases at the beginning of each fall semester at a rate equal to inflation.

However, not all students agree with how tuition is affected by the economy.

“I don’t think the tuition should increase with inflation because salaries don’t increase with inflation,” said Jessica Pascual, sophomore criminal justice major.

Students are concerned about automatic tuition hikes on top of all the other expenses.

“Tuition hikes really affect college students,” said Vianca Picart, junior criminal justice major. “We have so many things to pay for already, and higher tuition makes things even more difficult.”

However, part of the increase in funds will be applied to financial aid, which will counteract the tuition increase in some cases.

“Half of the increase will be allotted to need-based financial aid,” said Jessell.

The average increase after applying the need-based financial aid is $10.50 per semester. Some students will pay the full $21.00 but the students with the greatest financial aid need will pay $0, according to Jessell.

“I don’t see how a $21 increase per semester is so horrible, especially if part of it will allow for more financial aid,” said Rosario.

Seventy percent of the incoming revenue towards financial aid is used for need-based aid, according to Director of Financial Aid Francisco Valines.

The 70 percent of need-based aid will fund the university grant of $2,000, the upper division grant of $2000, the leverage grant of $2,000 and the graduate need grant of $5,000.

The remaining 25 percent is split: 10 percent for academic based scholarships and 15 percent for administering the aid programs.

“The other half will be used to hire additional advisors to better serve our undergraduate students,” said Jessell. “This will help them plan schedules and ensure they are taking the correct courses to assist them in graduating as quickly as possible.”
While students may be pessimistic about the 1.7 percent tuition increase, the university said it intends to use the revenue from the tuition increase to help put the money back into students’ pockets by providing financial aid and improved advising.


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