UF to charge for transcripts


Published: Friday, January 25, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 24, 2008 at 9:53 p.m.

If you are applying for an internship or a job this summer and you need a copy of your official UF transcript, you might want to ask the Office of the University Registrar in Criser Hall for it now while copies of transcripts are still free.

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Current UF students can pick up transcripts at the RegistrarÔǢs Office at Criser Hall, pictured here. They must complete and submit a transcript request form along with a picture ID.

Special to The Sun

As of Feb. 25, you'll be charged $6 for each copy. For students who have already graduated, the cost will be $12, said Marc Hoit, UF's interim chief information officer.

This might be just the beginning of new fees at UF.

Hoit said that an online-course fee may be another charge added for students. This would include online lectures students usually watch on E-Learning System - a centrally supported course management system at UF - instead of attending actual classes. This possible hike in fees is still in discussion and hasn't been approved yet, Hoit said.

Another possible fee is one for equipment use. UF already has material and supply fees, which are defined by Florida Statute 1009.24 (12) (g) as fees to "offset the cost of materials or supplies that are consumed in the course of the student's instructional activities, excluding the cost of equipment replacement, repairs and maintenance."

The statute also allows a charge for equipment use, which, according to Hoit, would pay for maintenance or repair of equipment that is for student use. At the moment, a pilot program for an equipment-use fee is under way in four colleges across the UF campus, and over future semesters more colleges might take part in the program.

Moreover, Shelly A. Arlen, chair of access services, said a late-fee increase at UF libraries is also in the discussion stage, although nothing has been decided yet.

The transcript charge, though, is a done deal.

UF is the only state university in Florida and probably one of the few in the nation that currently don't charge for transcripts, Hoit said. Florida statutes have allowed universities to charge for transcripts for years, but such a charge at UF has never been implemented. According to registrar officials, the issue had not come up in previous administrations.

With the current budget crunch, Hoit said, the university has been looking for ways it could either save money or recover costs.

"(Charging for) transcripts is one of the things that we should have been doing a long time ago to cover our costs," Hoit said.

The transcript fees will be used to pay the people who process transcripts and who now will collect the transcript fees. The portion of the fees collected will go toward staff support and a portion will go toward the Office of Information Technology's efforts to maintain the transcript software, he said.

The IT office helped set up a new electronic transcript system that was projected to cost about $200,000 to develop. There is also the ongoing cost of maintaining such a system. The money for the new system came mostly by shifting IT projects, Hoit said. The new system not only eases the process of getting transcripts, but also will handle the process by which UF will charge for transcripts through use of credit and debit cards.

Current students can pick up transcripts at the Registrar's Office by completing and submitting a request form with a picture ID, according to the Registrar's Web site. If students want the transcripts mailed, they can request up to 10 copies on ISIS and have them mailed. Students who have already graduated can get their transcripts by mailing or faxing the request to the office.

However, a month from now, students will be able to pay for transcripts with a debit or credit card online or in the lobby of the Registrar's Office. Computers in the lobby will also be available for online payment. To pay by cash, students will have to use UF financial services because the Registrar's Office does not handle cash.

Those previously enrolled at UF will have to call the Registrar's Office, verify their identity and have a new GatorLink account created so they can pay online. People who graduated before 1977 don't have electronic records, and their information has to be pulled from physical files, Hoit said. However, with the new software, the process will be the same for pre-1977 UF grads, too.

Florida statutes allow schools to charge a maximum of $10 per transcript for current students. The average that schools in Florida charge is $7, Hoit said.

Florida State University, the University of Central Florida and Florida International University charge $5 per copy, according to their Web sites. The University of Miami charges $6 per copy mailed out and $7 for those picked up.

Ryan Day, deputy chief of staff for UF Student Government, said SG was involved in the decision to start charging transcript fees. The fee was originally proposed because the cost to produce a transcript is $12.50 on average, Day said. It's the transcripts from before 1977 that need to be pulled from files that drive the cost up. Therefore, SG proposed current students be charged $6 and alumni $12, Day said.

Hoit said an estimated 160,000 UF transcripts are printed annually. However, once the transcript fee goes into effect, Hoit predicted that 25 percent fewer transcripts would be printed.

The main goal of charging for transcripts is so the money can be used for other projects, Hoit said. The money up to this point came from "anywhere and everywhere."

Hoit said that the UF fee has been approved by the state, the Board of Governors and by UF for many years.

"We've just never taken the advantage of that," he said.

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