Florida Gulf Coast University students kept a few extra dollars in their pockets this year, but the savings came at a price.
To absorb this year's limited tuition hike, administrators increased class sizes and the number of courses taught by adjunct professors, reduced library and student union hours and cut student and adjunct employees, Provost Ron Toll said.
"It's gotten to the point where it's painful and it's very demonstrable," he said. "You can see what we're not able to do. And it's not a good feeling."
FGCU President Wilson Bradshaw is expected to update the university's Board of Trustees today on the savings measures taken to offset the budget shortfall from a state-level decision capping the university's tuition hike at 12 percent.
Administrators based budget projections on a 15 percent tuition increase — the highest amount allowed under state law. With a 12 percent increase instead, the shortfall was an estimated $650,000. Each 1 percent of the hike is worth $308,000 in funding, but 30 percent of any tuition increase must go toward financial aid.
In June, as he sought the 15 percent tuition increase for the university, Bradshaw warned that significant cost-cutting measures would be necessary without it. Still, the Board of Governors, which oversees state universities, denied FGCU's request and subsequent appeal.
Toll said other actions the university took to handle this year's cuts include not filling several open positions and reducing the number of course sections offered by about 100.
He said the university eliminated nearly 90 employees, most of whom were part-time and did not receive benefits. Some of those laid off are student workers.
The $650,000 shortfall is in addition to $3 million legislators cut from FGCU's budget earlier this year. This year marked the fifth consecutive year the Legislature has trimmed the university's budget and the fourth consecutive year administrators responded by requesting a full 15 percent tuition raise.
With the 12 percent tuition increase, students pay $6,069 for a full course load of 30 credits. In the 2011-12 academic year, they paid $5,532.
Today's Board of Trustees meeting is slated to begin at 10:45 a.m. in the Cohen Center Ballroom.