Nick and Cristina: We Stand ‘Against Anything’ Forcing Students to Pay More

So far only one of the SGA presidential candidates has taken a stand on tuition hikes, an issue that UCF students may be facing in the near future.

“Cristina and I are against anything that forces students to pay even more money than they already do to receive an education,” SGA presidential candidate Nick Larkins said.

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This came in response to Knight News’ question regarding tuition hikes, an issue that could arise if the state approves a plan to implement block tuition.

The proposal would mean that universities would charge students a flat rate fee of tuition, regardless of their number of credit hours. The proposal was created in an effort to encourage students to take enough credits to be able to graduate in four years. However, one block tuition plan could lead to students paying less, while another could actually lead to students paying more.

Currently, UCF’s four-year graduation rate is 40% according to the university’s 2016 annual work plan. In order to graduate with 120 credits, students need to take an average of 15 credit hours per semester.

If the block tuition proposal were to pass at this average of 15 credit hours it would mean students would be required to pay for 15 credit hours even if they were only taking 12 credit hours, the amount needed to be considered a “full-time” student.

However, if passed, it would mean that students taking more than 15 credit hours would not pay for the extra classes.

Another alternative of the proposal is to set the block tuition rates at 12 hours. This would require students to only pay for 12 credit hours, and anything over the 12 credit hours the student would be able to take for free. The downside for university is setting the rates to 12 credits could create a income reduction for Florida universities, and require them to accept more financial aid from the state.

Larkins indicated, if elected, he will work to make sure every student dollar is spent wisely.

“UCF, and other state universities, are low on funding and Cristina and I will work hard to eliminate waste in all forms within SGA so that we can help alleviate financial strain from all student serving agencies and departments on campus,” Larkins said.

As for UCF, Grant Heston, Vice President for Communications and Marketing, said: “We support the Legislature’s goal that students earn high-quality, affordable degrees in four years. We are researching block tuition options so we can understand the potential impacts on students and the university. That work is ongoing and no plan has been adopted.”

While Larkins stood firmly against tuition hikes in general, he was cautious to avoid discussing the block tuition issue at this point.

“It is against my character to comment on a topic that is incomplete in and of itself. We will continually monitor the activity of the Florida Legislature and the UCF BOT and actively collect as much information as we can,” Larkins said.

Knight News also reached out to SGA presidential candidates Josh BoloƱa and Jad Shalhoub, as well as current SGA President Chris Clemente who has been in contact with University officials on the matter since January, but neither have yet to reply.

Stay tuned to Knight News for continued updates on this story.