FAU tuition and fees unchanged, first time in five years

Dylan Bouscher

This year, FAU's Board of Trustees recommended a fee increase to help fund construction projects for student facilities like the $9 million renovation to the Boca campus Student Union. Last week, the Florida Board of Governors rejected the increase. Photo by Dylan Bouscher.
This year, FAU’s Board of Trustees recommended a fee increase to help fund construction projects for student facilities like the $9 million renovation to the Boca campus Student Union. Last week, the Florida Board of Governors rejected the increase. Photo by Dylan Bouscher.

This year, some Florida universities approved tuition increases, while others requested increasing existing fees, or creating and imposing entirely new fees on their students — FAU ended up doing none of the above.

After the Florida State Legislature passed a three percent tuition increase earlier this year, Gov. Rick Scott vetoed it, the Sun Sentinel reported.

And after FAU’s Board of Trustees — the 13 officials who decide tuition rates and the university’s priorities — approved a $2 per credit hour fee increase, the UP previously reported, the Florida Board of Governors vetoed it last Thursday. While the State Legislature sets base tuition rates, the 17-member Board of Governors approves rates for “differential” fees, included in tuition, that fund everything from Student Government to Athletics.

So no increase from the Board of Governors, and a vetoed increase by the State Legislature. But let’s not forget the automatic, 1.7 percent “cost of living” tuition increase that was required by state law, and left up to the universities.

After Gov. Scott asked Florida university leaders not to approve the increase, only some listened. UF, USF, and FSU’s boards ignored Scott’s request and approved the increase, according to the Tampa Bay Times and Tampa Bay Tribune.

At FAU and FGCU, the universities’ boards did not approve the 1.7 percent increase. And the Board of Governors’ budget and finance committee also vetoed Orientation fee increases proposed by FAU, FIU, FSU, and UCF. Then, the Board vetoed a request to create a .50 cent per credit hour “green” fee at FSU and FAMU, for clean energy projects.

Acting President Dennis Crudele, who served as FAU’s senior vice president of finance through four years of tuition hikes and budget cuts, welcomed the untouched tuition rate, as well as the $24.7 million in state funding restored after last year’s cut.

“The University welcomed the opportunity to hold the line on tuition rates for the coming academic year. The fact that the Legislature has restored the $24 million in cuts that FAU sustained last year has gone a long way toward enabling us to keep our tuition affordable,” Crudele said. “We never want to raise tuition rates, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. Fortunately, we’ve been able to create a viable budget for 2013-14 that does not include a tuition increase.”

To recap the last four years, tuition and fees at FAU rose the maximum percent allowed, totaling a 60 percent increase. And in the last five years, the university lost $77 million in state funding, according to Crudele. FAU also leased a campus, and laid off more than 250 employees, or 11 percent of its workforce.

Student Body President Peter Amirato agrees with Crudele about tuition. “I’m very happy tuition is not going up, especially base tuition, that’s the main victory here,” Amirato said.

But he does not agree about one specific fee increase being rejected by the Board of Governors. The Capital Improvement Trust fee, which Amirato supported increasing $2 per credit hour, from $6.76 to $8.76 per credit hour, or about $24 more per semester for full-time, in-state undergraduates. The increase would have funded renovations to the Student Union, Breezeway, and other student facilities on campus.

“I am disappointed about CITF,” Amirato said about the increase being rejected, despite most other Florida university student body presidents supporting it, according to him.

“It’s not going to break anybody’s bank,” Amirato said, before citing examples of how the money could have helped. “The Breezeway, every year people comment on having issues with a leaky Breezeway. We want to fix that, but we need CITF.”

Amirato said the Boca Student Union, which has a $9 million renovation and expansion already underway, also could have benefitted from the fee increase.

“Most universities were asking for improvements to their Union…we want to at least double the size of our Union, we outgrew it five years ago. We need something now, yesterday.”