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FAMU Holds Off On Some Fee Increases, Goes Ahead With Others

Florida A&M University is holding off on some fee increases, for now. Trustees voted against bumping up costs for students as Governor Rick Scott is amping up pressure on schools to keep costs down.

University trustees debated for almost two hours on four different fee increases. Hikes for athletics, student activities, capital improvements and a student-green fee were all on the table. But in the end, the board dropped two of them: rejecting a dollar increase for athletics and a 56-cent increase for activities and services.

The board’s vote came as trustees like Spurgeon McWilliams noted Governor Rick Scott’s call to keep tuition rates low:

“I’m looking at all these fees, and I added them all up  per credit hour... if I take 18 credit hours, that’s $900  in fees.  That’s a lot of money. I’m not saying it’s not needed, but I think the trustees should be aware of the impact it may have every time you add a little but to tuition and fees,” McWilliams said.

Had those fees passed, they would still need approval from the Florida Board of Governors which oversees all the state’s public universities. Most of the money generated by the athletics fee would have gone to offset the athletics departments recurring multi-million dollar budget deficit. The board did approve a capital improvement fee of $2 per credit hour to go toward campus construction and renovation projects, and a 50 cent greening fee aimed at promoting renewable energy on campus.  

FAMU’s move comes as Governor Rick Scott continues to oppose any cost increases at the universities. Scott has sent letters to university presidents and is also meeting with some of them in person. He vetoed a three-percent tuition increase in the state budget, but there are questions about whether universities should move ahead with a smaller 1.7-percent cost-of-living increase mandated in state law.

“I don’t see any reason why we should have a tuition increase. We put a lot of money back into the budget for higher ed, including performance funding," Scott said. "And as universities focus on how much it costs per degree, whether these individuals are getting jobs when they graduate and how much they make,  I think there will be plenty of money in their budgets.” 

The legislature gave university’s back $300 million it had taken from their reserve funds the year before.

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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