TAMPA — There's good news if you're coming from out of state to attend the University of South Florida this fall: You'll pay 10 percent less for most graduate degree programs.
But it's bad news if you're a Florida resident at USF: That heavy feeling in your wallet is the looming reality of higher tuition.
USF trustees voted Thursday to charge in-state graduate and undergraduate students between 6 and 10 percent more, while lowering the bill for out-of-state graduate students in select programs.
USF administrators say the changes will correct rates that are far too low for state residents, but so high for out-of-state students that it's tough to recruit them. Enrolling more top students from around the nation and the world is part of USF's continuing push to improve its research profile.
The changes came on the same day administrators announced a controversial academic "realignment" that significantly affects the College of Arts and Sciences, USF's largest college and the one that most students go through for core classes.
Provost Ralph Wilcox said the tuition changes and reorganization will strengthen USF in the long run by generating new research revenue, saving money and making the most of available resources.
"We are certainly looking at some cost savings, but at the same time we wanted to balance that with strengthening ourselves," Wilcox said.
Some are skeptical and worried.
"Arts and sciences is the core of any college," said education professor Sherman Dorn, who heads the faculty union. "I just hope we're not headed to a health science center with the rest of the university as an appendage."
Under the new tuition plan, there will be a 6 percent hike for all in-state undergraduates starting this fall, to $82.03 per credit hour. The bill will be an extra 3 percent, or $88.99 per credit hour, for Florida undergraduates who have been enrolled on the Tampa campus since fall 2007.
That amounts to $105 more for a 15-credit semester.
Trustees also approved a 6 percent hike for most in-state graduate tuition, from $228.35 per credit hour to $242.04. Out-of-state graduate students in all programs except for medical and physical therapy will pay 10 percent less.
Graduate tuition and fees for non-Floridians studying here are now among the highest in the nation, more than $20,000 a year. Yet in-state graduate tuition and fees are among the lowest, $6,100 a year.
The tuition changes drew little discussion. But the academic reorganization is sure to generate controversy for weeks to come. It already prompted one dean to resign.
College of Arts and Sciences dean John Skvoretz submitted his resignation a few days ago, as USF administrators were circulating drafts of the changes. Skvoretz said he is not the "right fit" to lead the liberal arts college at a time when it is undergoing a "potential dismantling."
Under the plan, the college will be divided into three "schools": sciences, humanities, and social and behavioral sciences.
The college will take in the economics department, the Institute on Black Life and the Institute for the Study of Latin America and the Caribbean.
The schools of aging studies and social work and the department of criminology will move from the liberal arts college to a new college, yet to be named.
The architecture school will move to the visual and performing arts college, and the department of economics will move from the business college to liberal arts.
Shannon Colavecchio-Van Sickler can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 226-3403.