FLORENCE---The Francis Marion University Board of Trustees adopted a $41.7 million operating budget for the university’s 2006-2007 fiscal year during its quarterly meeting Friday (June 2).
The trustees also increased tuition 8 percent per semester. The increase means that full-time South Carolina resident undergraduates will pay $3,256 per semester, up $239 from last year. Tuition for the FMU nursing program was set at $5,049 per semester, an increase of $372 from last year.
Full-time out-of-state undergraduate students will now pay $6,419.50 per semester, and out-of-state nursing students will pay $10,005.50 per semester. Full-time South Carolina graduate students will pay $3,356 per semester, while out-of-state graduate students will pay $6,619.50 per semester.
Also approved by the board, and included in the above totals, is a $25 hike in the student activity fee to support growth in student related programs.
FMU’s $41.7 million projected budget includes $16.3 million in state appropriations, $23.7 million in student fees and $1.7 million in other revenue. The biggest part of the budget goes for personnel costs set at $32.1 million, $9 million for operating expenses, and about a half million dollars earmarked for specific new programs.
The $16.3 million that FMU is receiving in state appropriations approaches the $16.8 million in state funds appropriated in the 2001-2002 year and then drastically reduced in following years during a downturn in state revenues.
The tuition increase will yield $1.7 million in new revenues. Those dollars will allow the university to fund its share of a state mandated 3 percent salary increase and to fund an additional 3 percent pay increase for faculty and staff; to hire new faculty to support program and enrollment growth; to fund faculty promotions, salary compression and professional development; to appoint two additional faculty research scholars; and to fund increased utility costs for the physical plant, including putting into use the nursing building and student activity center later this summer.
According to S.C. Commission on Higher Education figures, FMU has had the smallest percent increase in tuition and fees of any state institution over the last five years. FMU’s fees have increased 66 percent during that period, compared to 98.5 percent for all public schools and 86.3 percent for the comprehensive teaching institutions.
Robert E. Lee of Florence, chairman of the FMU board’s finance committee, said that the cost of an education at FMU is still one of the best educational buys in the state of South Carolina.
FMU President Fred Carter thanked the board for its action, saying that the moderate fee increase is necessary to maintain quality programs and keep the university competitive within the state.
Carter also said that the nursing building and student activity building, both of which are nearly completed, will be wonderful additions to the campus physical plant. “Our nursing building will be a centerpiece of nursing education in South Carolina.”
In other business, the trustees adopted a university-wide strategic plan and reinstated the Francis Marion College medallion to be used for ceremonial occasions. The board also thanked Joe Heyward, vice president for student affairs, who is retiring at the end of the month, for his 30-plus years of service to Francis Marion.
In committee reports, the trustees learned that freshman applications for the fall semester were up about 5 percent, the ninth year in a row that applications have increased.
Following the board meeting, the trustees participated in the dedication of Hanson Park, located between the Cottage and Wallace House, in memory of longtime faculty member and administrator Gary Hanson who died last year. The 1.5-acre park has a garden-like atmosphere with footpaths, water pools and picnic tables where students and employees can find a quiet place for an outdoor lunch or to read and reflect. The park was designed in-house and all work was completed by FMU physical plant staff.
#194 / 6-2-06