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Monday, May 23, 2022

Machen addresses tuition hikes, faculty self-insurance

<p>UF President Bernie Machen listens to faculty members' concerns about the GatorCare self-insurance plan at the Faculty Senate meeting Thursday. Machen also discussed possible tuition increases.</p>

UF President Bernie Machen listens to faculty members' concerns about the GatorCare self-insurance plan at the Faculty Senate meeting Thursday. Machen also discussed possible tuition increases.

UF President Bernie Machen laid out a plan for tuition increases and addressed members’ concerns about GatorCare during Thursday’s Faculty Senate meeting.

During the last days of the legislative session, bills allowing UF to self-insure employees and charge market-rate tuition were approved and sent to Gov. Rick Scott.

“We’re hoping against hope that that becomes a long-term reality for us,” Machen said of the market-rate tuition bill. “This budget situation is the bleakest in the eight years that I’ve been here.”

Increasing tuition to the market rate could bring in $25 million to $30 million in additional revenue, which would take care of about half the budget cuts UF will face this year, Machen said.

Although the legislature reduced UF’s budget by about $36.5 million, the total “real” cut is closer to $55 million or $58 million because of hidden items like an $8.5 million reduction to retirement contributions.

However, even if the governor approves market-rate tuition, it probably wouldn’t be imposed in the fall, Machen said.

Going straight to the market rate would mean an increase of about 40 percent. Machen said to be fair, he’d rather wait until Fall 2013 to allow families considering UF to plan for the cost.

Another side of the plan would introduce flat-rate tuition, meaning students would pay the same amount for tuition throughout their degree programs so families can plan for similar expenses over four years. Tuition would increase with incoming freshman classes.

During the meeting, Machen opened the floor to faculty members with questions about GatorCare.

Some were concerned about whether off-campus and retired faculty would be covered under the plan. Machen said they would.

“Wherever you are, we got you covered,” he said.

Machen encouraged faculty to keep voicing their concerns and suggestions. He said the only way UF can create a self-insurance plan to fit everyone is if they continue to share.

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Bernard Mair, associate provost for undergraduate affairs, and Dave Kratzer, associate vice president for student affairs, gave an update on the anti-hazing task force.

Mair and Kratzer said people will soon be able to look up organizations’ conduct history online to see if a hazing complaint has been made against it.

“We want to be very transparent and very clear with our students,” Kratzer said.

UF President Bernie Machen listens to faculty members' concerns about the GatorCare self-insurance plan at the Faculty Senate meeting Thursday. Machen also discussed possible tuition increases.

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