Committee begins deciding how to spend student fees

Committee begins deciding how to spend student fees

Spinnaker

The student fee increase cap is $1.75 per credit hour this year, and though the UNF Board of Trustees is months away from crystallizing the fees, university entities are vying for funding.The Student Fee Assessment Committee met Oct. 19 in the first of a series of proposal hearings. Health Promotions, Student Health Services and Student Government requested increases in their respective fees.

The committee will hear UNF Athletics and the counseling center’s proposals Oct. 28 and will deliberate on all the proposals before the board votes in January.

Each of the five entities levies a fee on students based on the number of credit hours in which they enroll. The university can raise, by an amount the state decides every year, the sum total of those five fees. According to Florida State statute 1009.24 (b), the increase is calculated to offset inflation.

The school estimated it will generate an additional $700,000 from the increased 2011-2012 student fees. It projected students will enroll in 403,000 credit hours. Any money generated from students enrolling extra hours will be moved to the fund balance, which the university can access if necessary.

Student Health Services did not request their fee be increased, but UNF Health Promotions and Student Government requested a combined $1.24 of the available $1.75. So far, SG requested the lion’s share, asking that the Activity and Service fee, which makes up almost everything SG funds, be increased $1.11 to furnish and staff the new wellness center.

The $2.94 per credit hour wellness center fee cannot cover construction, equipment and staffing because construction plans were augmented after the fee had been enacted.

The first phase of construction did not include an exercise area, which SG wanted to be a priority, so it changed the building’s floor plan and phasing. In the new plans, a fitness area would be built first — leaving it no money to staff the center, said SG Business Adviser Randall Robinson.

SG is seeking a fee increase that would generate funds equivalent to a year’s worth of the wellness center’s operational costs, though the center opens seven months into the fiscal year. SG plans to use its fee increase, should the committee and board grant it, to pay for the February to July operational costs and use any extra money for new fitness equipment.

Health Promotions requested 13 cents per credit hour to salary a coordinator for its Healthy Osprey Program. A coordinator would bring the program to the next level, said Director of Health Promotions Shelly Purser.

The 13 cent per credit hour fee increase would also cover Health Promotions’ operating costs. Though it has operating expenses, Health Promotions does not specifically budget operating expenses as of now; instead, the money comes from miscellaneous revenue sources, Purser said.

UNF Athletics and the counselling center have not had the opportunity to request fee increases. Considering Health Promotions and SG have requested a total $1.24 — and athletics alone requested an average increase of 75 cents per year over the last two years — it is likely that one or more of the entities seeking increased fees will not get the full increase they are looking for.

Vice President of Administration and Finance Shari Shuman chairs the committee. By state mandate, students must comprise half of the committee — Student Body President Sitou Byll-Cataria, Chief of Staff Mladen Renier Director of Governmental Affairs Anthony Mack and Senate President Mack Volk represented students.

The Spinnaker will continue to cover student fee proposals and the committees deliberation over the coming months. Students who feel strongly about the fee deliberations can contact the Spinnaker or voice their opinions with Byll-Cataria or Volk.