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St. Petersburg College hikes tuition,

St. Petersburg College trustees raised the cost of tuition Tuesday, but not as much as college administrators had proposed. They also rejected a set of floor plans for the new Midtown Educational Center to be built in St. Petersburg.

SPC officials had proposed a $145 million annual budget with a 5 percent tuition increase, which would make up for a drop in student enrollment. Summer enrollment is slightly down due to federal changes to financial aid, officials said.

But trustees noted that if tuition went up by 4.5 percent instead of 5 percent, SPC's operating budget would stay the same as the previous year. Trustee Timothy North, newly appointed to the board by Gov. Rick Scott, said that choosing not to increase the college's budget at a time of declining enrollment would "send a better message."

The trustees unanimously approved the budget with the 4.5 percent tuition increase.

With that hike, an associate degree-seeking student from Florida will pay nearly $106 per credit hour. Such a student taking an eight credit-hour load would pay nearly $50 more than last year.

Students seeking bachelor's degrees will still see a 5 percent tuition hike because the Florida Legislature mandated it, SPC officials said. Those students will pay $116.70 per credit hour.

College President Bill Law said the new budget shifts resources to focus more on student success. More than one in four SPC students fail to successfully complete their courses, so the college will launch several programs to support them.

Nearly $1 million previously set aside for management and back-office jobs will be shifted to tutors, advisers and other staffers with direct student contact. "Our whole focus is send more people to the front lines to make sure students don't fall through the cracks," Law said.

In other action Tuesday, the Board of Trustees gave a thumbs-down to proposed floor plans for the new Midtown Educational Center in St. Petersburg.

The college hopes to start construction this fall on a three-story, 45,000-square-foot building on land leased from the city of St. Petersburg at 22nd Street and 13th Avenue S. That will quadruple the size of SPC's Midtown campus, which is currently in a leased building at 1048 22nd St. S.

But trustees were turned off by plans for a three-story-high atrium in the center of the building. "We need to maximize our classroom space," said trustee Deveron Gibbons.

Architects will bring back a revised design next month.

Mike Brassfield can be reached at brassfield@tampabay.com or (727) 445-4151.

St. Petersburg College hikes tuition, 06/19/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 19, 2012 6:19pm]
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