Written by Hillary Straba
Florida students may be getting their degree at a Georgia price thanks to a new tuition waiver at VSU.
The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia has approved a new Florida tuition waiver that grants in-state tuition for VSU students who live in counties on the Florida/Georgia border.
“Our ability to offer in-state tuition to many more Florida border county residents offers those Floridians the high quality educational experience that is VSU at a very affordable price,” said VSU President William McKinney.
Enrollment at VSU dropped this year from 12,515 students to 11,885. This program may be one way in which to increase future enrollment numbers.
In order to promote the new waiver, VSU will be holding a recruitment event on Dec. 5 at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel in Tallahassee. Representatives and alumni will discuss the benefits of a degree from VSU. Additionally, members of the Financial Aid, Housing, and Admissions departments will be available to answer any questions prospective students may have.
According to Andy Clark, the interim vice president for Enrollment, Marketing, and Communications, the Board of Regents had an existing policy that allowed VSU to offer tuition waivers to students living in Hamilton, Madison and Nassau counties.
“The problem (with that policy) is that there is not a lot of population in those counties,” said Clark. “We have 36 faculty members who reside in Leon County and drive here to work. We used that as a way to show the board that these counties are within our service area.”
The Board of Regents approved the addition of Baker, Columbia, Jefferson and Leon counties in the waiver program, expanding it from three to seven counties.
“We hope to draw 50 students from Lake City and Tallahassee within the first year,” said Clark. “Those 50 will hopefully retain, and maybe the next year we get 75. In four years, ideally we would want 400-600 students from this waiver package.”
Currently, there are 35 students attending VSU from the seven border counties, according to Barrie Fitzgerald, an institutional research analyst for VSU.
As for further expanding the tuition waiver service area, the university has no current plans. The university would eventually like to include the Jacksonville area, but that has yet to be approved by the Board of Regents and there is no telling if and when it would happen, according to Clark.
The new Florida tuition waiver program took effect this semester.
Current students who live in any of the seven approved counties will begin receiving in-state tuition; however, they will not be reimbursed for tuition paid before the new waiver program took effect.
New students do not need to fill out any additional paperwork to receive the waiver.
“They must first apply to VSU and then prove they are a resident of one of the counties. They can bring a rent agreement, power bill, etc.,” Clark said. “If you can prove you live in the county, we will give you a waiver.”