Just three weeks ago, the University of South Florida was confronted with a $128 million cut in funding at its Tampa campus. That proposed 60 percent budget reduction is now down to 21 percent for USF/Tampa which President Judy Genshaft said is fair and in line with universities of similar size.
The question for the universities is how to make up for the budget shortfall. One solution lawmakers took off the table - they did not approve tuition increases to make up for the funding reduction.
“So, the only other option would be if the Board of Governors allows a discretionary tuition that would go up to a 15 percent level,” Genshaft told reporters at a brief news conference Tuesday morning.
USF trustees have previously said they would have to request a 15 percent “discretionary” increase to cover this year’s budget cuts.
Genshaft said USF Lakeland students are being treated fairly even though lawmakers established Florida Polytechnic in Lakeland as the 12th university starting July 1st.
The budget deal provides money so current USF students in Lakeland will not have to commute to Tampa to complete their degrees. The Lakeland campus, staff and faculty will be phased out as student graduate and no new students will be admitted.
“The USF Lakeland/Poly will finish out all of the students there,” Genshaft said. “We will absorb and we will have resources to continue the faculty and staff there. The Florida Polytechnic University will start from scratch.
Starting from scratch for the 12th university she said will mean that it will have to re-start its application for accreditation.
Genshaft said there were other wins for USF including $6 million for the College of Pharmacy and nearly $7 million to build a new USF Heart Institute.