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New fee may add 5 percent increase to student academic bills

By: Dargan Thompson, Assistant Features Editor


Students may find a new fee added to their tuition this fall.


The Academic Enhancement Fee was approved Jan. 17 by the UNF Board of Trustees, and if approved by the Florida Board of Governors this spring, it will go into effect for the upcoming fall semester.


The fee adds a 5 percent increase to tuition, which translates to an additional $5.16 per credit hour.


The main focus of the fee is to create programs that will improve student retention and graduation rates, said Jeff Coker, UNF dean of undergraduate studies.


The fee would provide resources for an array of programs that are designed to enhance student success and improve the undergraduate experience for the whole student body.


Some of the revenue from the fee would go toward hiring more advisors. The student-to-advisor ratio would improve so that advisors can take on more of a mentoring role. When they are strained, advising staff can’t give the kind of intentional advising that helps students, Coker said.


The fee also would set up a peer mentoring program and provide more funding to undergraduate research, which is an expensive but important part of students’ studies, Coker said.


Coker said the kinds of programs the fee would put in place are tried and true, recognized nationally as high-impact programs. He said he believes they would benefit the student body as a whole and give students a more meaningful and engaging undergraduate experience.


Coker said he worked closely with Student Body President Matt Brockelman and Student Government Senate President Carlo Fassi to create the fee proposal. He said they added changes to improve the proposal, and he was pleased with their contributions.


However, not all students are as optimistic about the pending fee as Brockelman and Fassi.


Abby Eldredge, a senior Mathematics major, said she has watched her tuition go up every year since she came to UNF in 2008. She said she used to get money back from scholarships, but now has to take out loans to afford school. She was surprised to hear of another increase, and said she doesn’t think it is necessary.


“I don’t think enough students will take advantage of it to make it worth it,” Eldredge said.


UNF may be asking for a tuition increase as well, said UNF Chief of Staff Tom Serwatka.


Universities in Florida are allowed a 5 percent increase per year on a combination of the Activity and Service, Athletic and Health fees. Universities can also add an additional 10 percent in fees above those.


UNF added the Student Life and Services Fee last year, which increased tuition by 5 percent. If passed, the Academic Enhancement Fee will be the last fee for that additional allowance.


Serwatka said UNF currently has a graduation rate of 47 percent, which is about average for Florida’s universities but is not satisfactory to him.


“We would like to have a graduation rate of 70 or 80 percent,” he said. “We’d love it to be 100 percent, but we know we’ve got to push ourselves so at least 70 percent of our students are graduating.”


Email Dargan Thompson at [email protected].


See below for the full proposition of the Academic Enhancement Fee.


Academic Enhancement Fee – 2012 – 1.17.12

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