Board approves eight-percent tuition increase

A reformation of state funding for public universities was the hot topic of the Board of Governors meeting Thursday.

The board gathered in the Grand Ballroom of Florida A&M University to discuss the state of the University. The meeting lasted for most of the day, as the BOG covered topics ranging from audits to student affairs.

Several proposed board actions were decided for each committee. The facilities committee provided a detailed list of estimated funding for several universities in Florida. For FAMU, the project lists stated that renovations are in order for Tucker Hall, University Commons and other buildings. The total expenses for the renovations add up to $17, 910, 430.

The Student Affairs committee spoke with the BOG regarding the vaccinations for Meningococcal Meningitis and Hepatitis and if they should be regulated. The action was approved. The Student Affairs committee also brought up the subject of tuition increase.

The BOG and the committee discussed whether tuition should increase by 13 percent and gradually increase over the next few years to later meet the standards of the national tuition level.

This action was later passed but only at an increase of 8 percent starting in 2008-2009.

The BOG made a statement saying that this increase was for several reasons, one being that “Florida has the worst student/faculty ratio in the United States.” According to the statement, Florida loses 700 faculty a year due to the conditions and competition of other states.

“I can say that it’s a tough balancing act because as current students, I think we have a responsibility to make sure that you have a good student/teacher ratio because the idea is that if you have a better faculty student ratio, then we’ll have better quality graduates,” BOG representative Ava Parker said.

Although the BOG made the notion to increase the tuition, that does not stop its concern with the sudden increase.”I’m concerned because I don’t want us to make any moves that is going to impact the ability to have more access for more students,” Parker said.

“When you break down what we did today, break down the numbers, we say ‘well how much exactly is that,’ and I think the number we’re surrounding is about $220 per semester.”

University President James Ammons expressed concern about a measure passed by the Board of Governors in December of last year that has already raised tuition in an attempt to improve education quality. The measure raised university tuition fees by five percent, a move that has been met with opposition from students and University leaders.

“I understand the need to maintain increased quality within the university system, especially during times like this when we’re experiencing deep budget cuts; however, I am also concerned about the 78 percent of our students who receive need-based financial aid,” Ammons said in opposition to the measure.

Ammons said the BOG must take into account the possible consequences of continuing to increase tuition costs.

“I think as we look at this as a policy of the university system, we have to be concerned about whether or not we’re putting a college out of the reach of our students, and that will always be a concern of mine along with quality, ” Ammons said.

But Parker said there are tradeoffs to provide better education.

“I think that students will have to make some different choices about one or two luxury items, but I think that if I can say to our students that if you just pay tuition at $20 more, I can hopefully improve the quality of education for you; I think that’s worth the exchange,” Parker said.