A Message from USF President Judy Genshaft
In support of USF Students, a great education is balanced with affordability and access.
The best universities unite excellent education, world-class research and top-tier faculty scholarship. Universities, though, are at their best when they achieve those high ideals while remaining affordable and accessible for working students and families.
The University of South Florida is that university.
In setting tuition for the upcoming academic year, USF has struck a balance between the fiscal realities of providing a high-quality education and the financial realities facing our students and their families. USF’s Board of Trustees and the Florida Board of Governors have approved the university’s request to raise differential tuition by 11 percent, less than the 15 percent allowed and the 2nd lowest tuition increase among Florida’s 11 existing universities.
In striking this careful balance, USF sends a strong message that high quality and affordability are not mutually exclusive. Compared to research universities who are our peers nationwide, we have one of the lowest tuition rates in the United States yet we continue to provide the education which prepares our students to be competitive in a global economy.
USF has always recognized it does not exist separate and apart from the people it serves in the Tampa Bay region and beyond. The typical USF student works full-time to support their studies and come from the very working families who have been hit hardest in this economic downturn. One out of every five USF students is the first person in their family to attend college. Thousands more are returning veterans from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and laid-off workers forced to remake their careers in the recession. USF remains one of the nation’s top universities in enrolling community college transfers.
USF’s differential tuition proposal was thoughtfully and strategically developed from the ground up to, first and foremost, strengthen student access and success. Even though the USF System faces $50 million in state funding cuts this year alone, USF and its trustees do not believe students and families should be expected to assume the full burden of those cuts.
It is also important to note:
· The Board of Governors approved USF’s request to dedicate a full 40 percent of the new tuition differential revenues to need–based financial aid – the only request of its kind by any state university. This move will add $4.1 million to support scholarships for our students.
· Because the Florida Legislature included no base tuition increases in the state budget, the actual dollar increase students face translates into a more modest 9 percent increase. In real dollars, undergraduate in-state tuition will increase about $529, bringing full-time undergraduate tuition and fees to $6,335. The national median tuition and fees for like universities last year was $8,990. View a tuition chart here.
· The remaining $6.2 million in proceeds from the tuition increase will be invested directly in programs to improve undergraduate retention and graduation rates; to expand programs and degree productivity in science, technology, engineering and math; to better serve more returning veterans; to reduce excess hours and student debt; and to support academic partnerships with business and industry, career counseling and successful job placement for our graduates.
· USF is holding down costs in other ways. Housing and parking rates for the 2012-13 academic year have been frozen at current levels and the price of campus meal plans was lowered.
Even in the face of diminishing state investment in higher education, we will redouble our efforts to enhance graduation and job placement rates while reducing student debt. Our faculty and staff deserve much credit for finding more efficient ways to deliver a world-class education through five years of state budget cuts now totaling $125 million – which amounts to a full one-third of the university’s state funding. Still USF has continued to reach new thresholds in its graduation rate, in the number of students earning degrees – particularly in much-need STEM fields – and in faculty research prestige. Just this year, USF joined this nation’s Top 50 research universities, both public and private, in National Science Foundation rankings.
When USF set its sights on becoming a leading national research university, it did so with the overarching goal of providing the Tampa Bay region and the state of Florida with a path to a sustainable, secure and healthy future. Our students, faculty and staff are more committed to that goal than ever before.
We thank our entire campus community, as well as the USF Board of Trustees, the Florida Board of Governors, Gov. Rick Scott, the Florida Legislature and the Tampa Bay region for their work, support and contributions through this challenging process.
USF students have the talent, work ethic and ambition to make Florida prosperous and hopeful again. USF - your university - is dedicated to achieving this most important goal.