Trustees approve FIU budget, support DACA non-resident tuition waiver policy

FIU Board of Trustees today approved a $1.2 billion budget for the 2013-2014 fiscal year. The budget contains growth in most areas, except in financial aid, where changes in the number of students eligible for Pell Grant and Bright Futures Scholarships resulted in a reduction in the financial aid budget.

“Our students work and many come from homes with modest incomes,” said FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg. “When Congress and the Florida Legislature raise the bar on eligibility for these key programs, a good number of our students are going to be left out or they are going to receive significantly less aid.”

Last year approximately 50 percent of incoming freshmen received Bright Futures. In fall 2014, when all the eligibility changes have taken effect, only 20 percent of incoming freshmen may be eligible for Bright Futures.

FIU administrators also addressed board members’ questions regarding the recent decision to grant partial tuition waivers to students who have received Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). As of the spring of 2013, FIU is granting a partial tuition waiver to previously undocumented students who have qualified for this federal program.  Students with a valid USCIS form I-797, Notice of Deferred Action, who graduated from a Florida high school or have been attending college in Florida for 12 consecutive months are eligible to receive a waiver for the portion of tuition that out-of-state students pay. DACA students pay the full in-state tuition which is about one third the cost of out-of-state tuition.

“We are about access and this is a small change we can make to provide access to more qualified students right here in our community,” said Rosenberg.

FIU is the first university in Florida to make this move. It is estimated that 30 of the 52 students expected to take advantage of the DACA out-of-state tuition waiver in the fall of 2013 are new students; many of the others had been enrolled sporadically because paying full out-of-state tuition has precluded their continuing in their degree program. These students still do not qualify for most other forms of financial aid, including Pell and Bright Futures.

In addition to approving the budget, trustees received updates on key new hires, such as Frank Mora, who is the new director of the Latin American and Caribbean Center; recent accomplishments of nursing professor Joanne Youngblut, who received a distinguished researcher award; and professors Madhavan Nair and Sakhrat Khizroev, who have developed a new technique to deliver anti-HIV drugs to the brain.

Also during the meeting, Albert Maury was elected chair of the Board of Trustees for a second two-year term. Vice chair Michael M. Adler will continue to serve in that capacity as well.

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