As students, faculty and staff return to campus for the Fall, Santa Fe College will have changes in course options, student fees and faculty and staff salaries.
Students could see increases in lab fees and more HyFlex courses this Fall following the Santa Fe College District Board of Trustees’ approval of the 2021-2022 budget June 15. Faculty and staff could receive salary increases and a one-time stimulus payment due to the accepted budget.
Due to lowered enrollment following the COVID-19 pandemic, Santa Fe’s tuition revenue decreased, said Andy Barnes, Santa Fe’s vice president of administrative affairs and chief financial officer. However, Barnes said the college will end the year financially stronger than expected.
“It was really everybody’s effort in making this work this past year or 18 months,” Barnes said. “It’s been very impressive. Everybody’s pinched their pennies. Everybody’s been careful.”
Although Barnes said tuition costs didn’t increase, students will see some adjustments to student lab fees.
The 2021-2022 student lab fees increased by a little over $1,500 — an increase of about 4% when compared with the previous year, according to the college website.
Barnes said fees are determined by what the college’s vendors charge for materials and supplies needed for the courses.
Along with updating student lab fees, the budget’s passage allows for faculty and staff to receive a one-time stimulus payment June 30, ranging from $300 to $1,200, Barnes said.
The one-time payments were prorated based on when employees started at the college, how many credit hours they taught and how many hours they worked, said Lela Frye, the director of human resources.
Barnes said the year had an excess budget because state appropriations were held back and then restored at the end of the year.
“Our college was a very traditional college prior to the pandemic, and most operations were on-site,” Barnes said. “So, just retooling, the extra hours and the extra effort that it took, we just wanted to do something to recognize all of the effort that people put in.”
With the approved budget, faculty and staff will also see an increase in their salaries in the Fall.
The 2021 budget presentation stated full-time employees will receive a $500 salary increase and a 2.5% salary addition accounting for a 1.4% increase for cost of living and an additional 1.1% raise.
Barnes said part-time employees will see their wages increase to $10 an hour if below minimum wage or a 2.5% increase if they are above minimum wage. Barnes said the part-time increase to $10 an hour aligns with Florida’s minimum wage increase to $10 by September.
With a transition to remote learning after the campus shut down March 2020, students and professors have seen class structures adapt. Now, returning to the campus in the Fall, students could see more structural shifts through increased HyFlex courses.
About $2 million is the estimated total cost of equipment for HyFlex courses, which are blended courses with videoconferencing technology and in-person instruction, Barnes said. Lisa Armour, the college’s interim provost and vice president for academic affairs, said students can decide whether they attend class online or in person on a case-by-case basis.
“We’re trying to do everything we can to meet students where they are and provide them every resource we possibly can to make sure that we’re successful,” Barnes said.
Santa Fe has modeled about 14 classes so far with equipment for HyFlex classes and plans to put together about 44 more, Barnes said. The college hopes to have everything ready for the Fall, he said.
“I personally really enjoy in-person classes,” said 19-year-old Santa Fe student Gage Sposato. “But also I feel like some people have gotten really used to the at-home online stuff, and they really like that. So I think giving that option is really beneficial.”
For all online classes, a distance learning fee of $10 per credit hour is assessed, according to the college website.
Ethan Slater, an 18-year-old microbiology and cell sciences student, said he doesn’t understand the need for distance learning fees.
“I personally am frustrated with it simply because I don’t really know what it correlates to,” Slater said. “So it kind of seems like a fee that’s just tacked on with the situation.”
Santa Fe College President Paul Broadie II said the college is focused on student enrollment and improving the institution.
“I can’t thank everyone enough,” Broadie said during the budget presentation. “It’s truly a Santa Fe family, and it’s an honor to serve you.”
Contact Antonia LaRocca at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @antoniarlarocca.
Antonia LaRocca is a staff writer at The Alligator.