Mitchell busts myths on university funding

Melanie Mitchell, Copy Editor

There’s been speculation as to what funds were used to pay for the new Performing Arts Center (PAC) and Griffin Athletic Complex. Some students believe that the increase they have recently seen in tuition is a result of these new facilities. However, I do not think that is the case. The FMU faculty has done and continues to do all they can to keep tuition among the lowest for four year public institutions in South Carolina. The slight raise in student costs is not because of these new buildings, but an effect of funding cuts from the state legislature, a direct result of the hard economic times.

A group of state officials are assigned the task of creating a budget to divide state funds. They meet annually in January to begin discussion, and it takes several months for them to finalize the state budget. From the amount the state legislature decides to allot to FMU, our university Board of Trustees, President Carter and senior staff evaluate the university’s funds and create the most modest budget possible for the coming year’s expenses. Based on the funding FMU receives from the state and an accurate figure of expenses, the cost for students to attend is adjusted as needed.

Although the financial wording may be confusing, the concept is simple. The state legislature cuts FMU funding, our Board of Trustees adjusts the university budget and as a result, expenses tend to go up.

So if the state legislature cuts our funding, how did FMU afford to pay for the PAC and the Griffin Athletic Complex, you might ask? That answer is simple as well.

FMU has several ties to the community and has secured contributions and grants from outside sources. The city of Florence and a sizable gift from a foundation helped fund the PAC. FMU already had the resources used for this project neatly tucked away.

The Griffin Athletic complex was funded largely by gifts and private contributions, but a portion of student activity fees are set aside as athletic revenue bonds. Those bonds were then used to help fund the Griffin Athletic Complex.

The new office building currently being built on campus was funded through the university’s Capital Maintenance Reserve Fund. This new facility will be used primarily for printing. The new office building is being built due to the condition of the current print building.

Students need to know that increasing student expenses is a last resort. Many university faculty members have a personal appreciation of keeping costs low for students. FMU ranks as the third lowest tuition for a four year public institution in South Carolina. The second ranked institution is only $46 cheaper.

Despite the hefty cuts from state funding, FMU has still implemented new programs, new facilities and more personnel to enrich the quality of education for students.

It is too early to predict if any changes will be made to student costs for the coming school year.

The student body should be proud that FMU’s tuition is low, and we should commend our Board of Trustees, President Carter and all of our senior staff for their diligence in providing us with a quality education at an affordable cost.