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Monday, May 27, 2024

The 5 percent tuition increase going into effect this spring will leave the State University System ,9.5 million richer, but each of Florida's 11 universities has different plans for spending its share.

After months of conflict, the spring increase was approved by the state Legislature and Gov. Charlie Crist in October.

The Florida Board of Governors, the State University System's highest governing body, allowed universities to decide how to use the funds but urged them to consider using some money toward financial aid for students.

UF will use ,1.4 million of the increase to hire more faculty and advisers, records from the Florida Board of Governors show.

UF Provost Janie Fouke said the university hasn't decided how many new hires it will make.

Bill Edmonds, Board of Governors spokesman, said increasing faculty is important to helping students graduate on time.

"It's in everybody's interest to get you out the door - not that we don't want you," Edmonds said.

Out of its previously planned budget, UF will contribute about ,6 million for need-based financial aid and ,4.7 million for merit-based aid in the spring, the records state.

Florida State University expects to use ,76,800 of its share to keep its library open 24 hours, five days a week.

The rest will be used for financial aid and security.

Before the increase was approved, FSU reduced its library hours to compensate for budget cuts.

"Libraries are easy targets when budgets start getting thin," Edmonds said.

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He said he thinks FSU's library plans are exciting for students, especially since the library's lobby hosts a Starbucks.

"Nobody can sleep anymore with all that caffeine," he said. "I'm hoping other schools will do it, too."

The University of South Florida will use about ,1 million of its expected ,1.4 million to restore courses cut this fall by hiring about eight faculty members, said Ken Gullette, USF spokesman.

Because of budget cuts of about ,12 million over its four campuses, the university froze more than 75 faculty and staff positions in fall, Gullette said. USF officials will try to fill as many of the spots as possible with tenure-track faculty.

"That's where we're going in the future," he said. "This will help, but it won't get us to where we were at the start of the fall semester."

The rest of USF's share will be used for need-based and merit-based aid.

The University of Central Florida will also use about ,1 million for more course offerings and about ,550,000 for need-based aid.

"Need-based aid is a really important consideration when you raise tuition," UCF President John Hitt said. "It's going to be a tough couple of years."

Hitt said he thinks students will support the hike because of the benefits extra funds will bring.

"It's not a huge amount of money, but it's enough to do something," he said.

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