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USF officials say ''reserves'' are spoken for | News

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USF officials say ''reserves'' are spoken for
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Tampa, Florida - "Chop from the Top!" some USF students chant as they protest potential tuition increases of as high as 15 percent.  The group joined Students for a Democratic Society, a non-sanctioned USF group protesting tuition hikes.

"I think it's great to get together and try to unify and get a message out," says Cole Giering, 20 and third year USF student.

Schools across the state held similar protests, but will it make a difference? The House tentatively agrees with the Senate on cutting $300 million from the state's 11 universities without raising tuition.

State leaders will leave that decision up to University Board of Trustees like USF's. The state allows universities to raise tuition up to 15% each year until it meets the national average for undergraduate tuition. Florida ranks 45th.

"I think we have to look at it," says John Remil, USF Board of Trustees Chair and President and Chief Executive Officer of TECO Energy.

State leaders say universities need to tap into their reserves. USF's Tampa campus has $76 million set aside. "It's not a savings account for a rainy day, it's spoken for," says John Long, USF's CFO.

Long says the Board of Governors and Board of Trustees requires universities to keep money in reserves. Long says the portion for USF in Tampa is $18 million, add $18 million to absorb USF Polytechnic's staff and $6 million for USF's College of Pharmacy, $15 million for recurring academic expenses, plus $10 million of a $72 million maintenance deficit and costs equal $67 million, with $9 million remaining.

Ramil says USF cannot zero out its reserves. "Whatever we do, we are not going to totally spend down the reserves. That will not be prudent. We have to go into keeping reserves, we don't know what will happen next year. We are being put in the position to raise tuition. To what level, I don't know."

First year student Rosa Leath says, "If you cut the budget and  keep increasing the tuition, you won't have doctors, lawyers, none of that. It'll be so expensive."

Students hope state leaders can meet in the middle. "I guess something has got to give, but if they can meet in the middle where there is a mix of tuition increase and cuts  you got to compromise especially when it comes to budgets," says Cole Giering, 20, USF student.

USF officials say possible cuts include summer school, tutoring, library resources and teachers. A vote on the budget is expected by Tuesday. The legislative session is scheduled to end on Friday, March 9.

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