SFSC proposes tuition increase
AVON PARK - Students will see a modest tuition increase and employees will receive a pay increase, according to South Florida State College’s tentative budget. The proposed 2013-14 budget includes a 3 percent tuition increase and a 2 percent across-the-board salary increase for all eligible employees. SFSC President Norm Stephens, Jr. noted that the college’s tuition rate is below the maximum allowed by the state. The Legislature approved the 3 percent tuition increase, but it’s subject to the governor’s consideration of the appropriations bill, Stephens said. “We don’t know whether or not he is going to veto that.”Would the employee pay increase be jeopardized if Governor Scott vetoes the tuition increase? Stephens responded, “We have a contingency; it would not jeopardize the cost of living increase that we are recommending for our employees.” Even if the governor did veto the tuition increase, South Florida State College would still be able to raise tuition in its credit programs by 3 percent, Stephens explained. “If the governor vetoes the tuition increase, I would not recommend to the board that we increase tuition.” If approved by Scott, the 3 percent tuition increase would be the smallest increase at South Florida State College in several years. The annual increases from 2008-09 through 2012-13 were, 6 percent, 12.3 percent, 8 percent, 8 percent and 5 percent, respectively. The draft budget noted that “matching programs” for the college system fared poorly. “Every year we hope the Legislature will reinstate two different matching programs that we have benefited from in the past,” Stephens said. One of those is the Phillip Benjamin matching program, which matches money raised by the SFSC Foundation for scholarships, he said. About three or four years ago the Legislature stopped the program through about 2015. “In our case it has accumulated quite a bit of donations that have yet to be matched, a couple of million dollars for us,” Stephens said. The other unfunded matching program is the Facilities Challenge Grant, which matches a portion of donations made for building construction projects, he said. “Overall it was a very difficult budget for us,” Stephens said. “After you remove some of the mandatory expenses that we have, it’s basically the same as last year. There is only about a 7 tenths of 1 percent increase over last year.” The college’s fiscal year starts July 1. The SFSC Board of Trustees will vote on the proposed $21.35 million budget at its meeting at 6 p.m., Wednesday, in the Highlands Campus Boardroom.