History of FSA

The Florida Student Association, Inc. (FSA was originally coined the Florida Student Lobby in 1975 and its membership consisted of the State Council of Student Body Presidents - a loose-nit alliance of the top elected student officials. However, with the 1974 Florida Legislature's action to localize control over the Activity and Service (A&S) fee generated on each of the State University System's (SUS) institutions, students quickly realized their potential as an active force in shaping higher education policy and practices.

By November 1976, the student leadership of the SUS had filled incorporation papers with the Secretary of State to create the Florida Student Association Inc., as a not-for-profit research and advocacy group. The remainder of the 70's brought dynamic changes to the student role in higher education policy, as FSA worked with policy makers to add student representation to the Board of Regents. In 1977 the Florida Legislature provided student representation on the Board of Regents and in 1978 secured voting rights for the student Regent.

Precedence for dealing with the Legislature on the cost of education, a constant priority of FSA, was also set in the later half of the 70's as students and policy makers worked together to keep tuition increases to a minimum. These practices played a vital role in the early 80's and continue today as we struggle to balance the cost of providing quality education with accessibility to all who are academically qualified.

In conjunction with tuition efforts, FSA staff focused much of their energies on other financial issues throughout the 1980's. Students worked to expand and modify the guidelines used to determine the allocation of their Activity and Service (A&S), Capital Improvement, and Building Fees; to enhance faculty salaries; to decrease the student/faculty ration; and to advocate for enhancements in the Quality improvement funding provided to the SUS. In 1981, the Post Secondary Education Planning Commission was created and the Legislature provided representation for a voting student member. FSA ended the decade by playing a role in the implementation of the Florida Pre-Paid College Program; Which Currently assists over 35,000 students and provides affordable attendance at institutions of higher learning.

While the 1970's saw the birth and solidification of the Florida Student Association, Inc. and the 1980's challenged both students and policy makers in the financing of higher education in the state of Florida, the last decade of the millennium provided motivation to expand student activism and service across the state. Following the creation of the Florida Office of Collegiate Volunteerism in 1990, FSA helped coordinate and develop service-scholar efforts at each member campus. These efforts extend today, as FSA is an active statewide participant in numerous programs including, but not limited to the Governor's Mentoring Initiative, Venture Crew, and Volunteer FSA.

The years 1996 through 1999 saw the most dramatic increasing in student involvement since the inception of FSA. A successful sequel to Vision '92, Vision '96 was held at the University of South Florida bringing candidates and students together in the largest nonpartisan debates and forums the state had seen in more than fifteen years. In addition, the efforts of FSA proved triumphant with the expansion of the Motor-Voter laws to include all colleges and universities in the state. The extension of these laws was just a part of FSA;s efforts to make the 18-25 year old section of the population a strong force at the polls. Voter registration campaigns have been a constant effort of the Association and statewide campaigns such as Rave, Rev, One Voice - One Vote, Wake-up Wednesday, and efforts made at individual campuses have registered hundreds of thousands of Floridians.

While efforts to increase student awareness and activism dramatically expanded. FSA and its student leadership kept a watchful eye on the fiscal issues surrounding the SUS. With the creation of FSA's Council of Fiscal Agents (CFA) in 1997, student leaders worked side-by-side with the Legislature and the Board of Regents to review financial accountability procedures and develop a statewide set of "Student Government Financial Precepts". This is pro-active endeavor curbed the growing momentum to restrict student authority over the A&S fee and continues to provide an excellent system of checks and balances on the allocation of such fees.

The 1999-2000 Fiscal Year ranked among the top for students throughout the system as FSA supported and effectively advocated the increase of need-based financial aid by $20 million. In addition, FSA was actively involved in the expansion of the Bright Futures Scholarship Program by nearly $15 million to additionally cover local, block, and lab fees. Governor Jeb Bush advanced the student's cause by voting a 5% across-the-board tuition hike (saving the students over $16.9 million) and authorizing the only increase through differential tuition. Differential tuition policy provides students with a strong voice in how monies are allocated on each respective campus.

During the 2001 Session, FSA advocated for student representation and voting rights on all newly created boards of trustees in the SUS. The Legislature granted this request by making the Student Body President the 13th member of the Board at each Institution. The Student Body President is a voting member of the Board and is an active participant in policy making at the university. The new century has laid out some of the biggest challenges the State University System has ever seen. The Florida Student Association, Inc, and the 245,000 students of the SUS continue to be active participants and look forward to working with the Florida Board of Education. University boards of trustees, and the Florida Legislature on the policy options affecting the future of higher education in Florida.

Three Decades of Effective Student Lobying by FSA


    2007

  • A System on the Edge

    2007 was the year FSA emerged as a major player among the stakeholders in the state higher education system. The association changed its direction and shifted towards working on increasing quality in our universities. We successfully allied with the BOG to amend the technology fee language to be the most student friendly in the statutes, setting the stage for passage of the first student endorsed fee in the history of Florida. FSA also lobbied on issues relating to textbook affordability, as well as additional monies for First Generation Students. As the BOG, Governor and Legislature continued to differ on tuition plans to further the SUS, FSA has been on the forefront, vocally leading the charge for change, with a commitment from the students to invest in quality.

    2006

  • Tuition Hikes, Technology Fee

    FSA was victorious in defeating technology-fee initiatives brought forth by the Board of Governors staff. The Association also defeated a bill by Representative Kravitz that would eliminate financial aid for certain international students. When proposed tuition increases recommendations from the Governor and the Legislature came in as high as 10%, FSA successfully mobilized with a press conference that received national attention The result was an only 3% tuition increase-the lowest in over 10 years. FSA also worked with Governor Bush in bringing over 40 million in new, need based and minority financial aide, as well as the House of Representatives Colleges & Universities Committee on HB1237, which appropriated $95 million to the universities for science, technology and research.

    2005

  • Anti-Hazing

    The Florida Student Association was able so lobby the Florida Legislature into passing an anti-hazing bill, the Chad Meredith Act sponsored by Representative Hasner. The legislation made hazing penalties more severe under state law. FSA also successfully lobbied for an only 5% increase in state tuition and fought off block tuition proposals, as well as a bill aimed at decreasing academic freedom amongst faculty.

    2003

  • Bright Futures Scholarship Program

    During the 2003 Legislative Session, FSA made recommended changes to the program. These changes entailed increased standards for the Florida Medallion Scholarship, FSA opposed any decoupling of the program. This was the First time that the Association took a proactive stance. FSA continues to work with legislators and their staffs to ensure any new requirements do not place an undue burden ob the students nor cause harm to their well-earned scholarships.

    2002

  • HB 353: Student Government Codification

    The most prominent accomplishment of the Association since the late seventies, HB353 is the first piece of student created legislation to find its way completely through the legislative process. Implementation of this bill in July of 2002 solidifies student governments as a statutory entity and provides an increased number of protections and freedoms for both the student government and student leaders.

  • SB 1914 - Part-Time FSAG

    Along with Senator Ron Klein and others, FSA played a key role in the creation of Florida Public Student Assistance Grants for students who attend classes part time. Students who take at least six credit hours will now have the same need based financial aid opportunities afforded to full-time students.

  • Bright Futures Scholarship Program

    Along with the continued efforts to raise standards and decouple the scholarship amount from tuition rates, policy makers and university administrators have proposed numerous ways to "water-down" the scholarship program. FSA continues to work with legislators and their staffs to ensure any new requirements do not place and undue burden on the students nor cause harm to their well-earned scholarships. In addition, summer funding for Bright Futures was cut from the state's operating budget. FSA worked with staff to create a policy to ensure that students who were on track to graduate in the summer of 2002, were able to receive the Bright Futures awards.

  • Securing Bright Futures Summer Funding for Graduating Seniors

    In the Summer 2002 Semester the Association played an important role in securing Bright Futures Summer Funding for Graduating Seniors. The Association'' efforts resulted in a Chancellor's Memorandum instructing State Universities to abide by the proviso language in the General Appropriations Act, which instructed state universities to provide for Bright Futures Summer Funding for Graduating Seniors from the General Revenue allocated to each State University for Financial Aid purposes.

  • Tuition one-half Student Committees

    In the Summer of 2002, the Association played an important role in helping our Student Governments advocate for the creation of one-half Student Committees to make recommendation on the allocation of additional tuition revenues resulting from the tuition flexibility given to the university boards of trustees by the Florida Legislature. The Association's efforts resulting in a Chancellor's Memorandum encouraging State Universities to establish one-half Student Committees.

    2001

  • Transportation Access Fees

    In 2000, the Legislature passed Committee Substitute for Committee Substitute for House Bill 1567 (Chapter 2000-215, Laws of Florida), which provided legislative authority for rules of the State University System. The included a provision that authorized the Board of Regents to establish "traffic and parking fines, charges for parking decals, and transportation access fees." Using this authority, the Board of Regents proposed a rule that would have allowed each university to impose an across-the-board transportation access tee on a per-credit-hour basis without any limits. The Florida Student Association lobbied the cabinet aides to the Governor and Cabinet, sitting as the State Board of Education, and the Board of Regents to curtail the unlimited authority that the rule permitted each university. Ultimately, the Board of Regents amended the proposed rule to require "appropriate input from students" before imposing the fee. On January 8, 2001, a Chancellor's Memorandum was issued which required that any increases in transportation access fees must be recommended by a committee, composed at least one-half of students appointed by the student body president. See section 240.209(3)(e) 8.q., Florida Statutes, rule 6C-&.003(34), Florida Administrative Code, and Chancellor's Memorandum CM-D042.00.

  • Student Body Presidents as Trustees

    The Legislature passed Senate Bill 1162 (Chapter 2001-170, Laws of Florida), which abolished the Board of Regents and created a board of trustees at each university. The law provided that a student body president at each university serves as a voting member of the board of trustees. The law also required the university board of trustees to establish a committee, composed at least one-half of students appointed by the student body president, to periodically review and evaluate the student judicial system. The Florida Student Association was the only entity lobbying the Legislature for a student voice and a student vote on each local board of trustees. See section 229.003(4). 229.008(1)(a), and 229.0081(2)(1), Florida Statutes.

    The two largest efforts to overhaul the scholarship have been 1) decoupling tuition and fees from the award amount and 2) raising the overall standards. Currently, the award amount is increased each time tuition and fees are raised in the state of Florida. The association has ardently fought to keep the program coupled. A flat award would be devastating to students that rely on the scholarship, especially since tuition and fees have been climbing each Numerous bills have been filed raising both the GPA requirements and scoring criteria for standardized testing. The association has continued to support no change in raising test score and GPA requirements.

    The Florida Student Association continues to be the only lobbying entity testifying in support of the current program before legislative committees, the office of the Governor, and state and national media. To date, the Association has effectively protected the current awards and criteria for the students of the State University System.

  • Bright Futures Scholarship Program

    Since its inception in 1997 (see section 240.40201, Florida Statutes), the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program has been an exceptional merit based aid program benefiting more that 50,000 undergraduate students in the State University System of Florida. At the same time, there have been major threats to the program and an increased effort has been made over the past three years to overhaul the scholarship. The board of Regents, the Community College System, the Postsecondary Education Planning Commission and other higher education groups have filed or supported numerous bills to "water-down" the program.

    2000

  • Student Discipline Rule Review Committee

    In 1996, the Legislature passed Committee Substitute for Senate Bills 2290 and 2288 (Chapter 96-159, Laws of Florida), which revised the Administrative Procedure Act (Chapter 120, Florida Statutes). The law included a provision that re-created the 1985 committee, at least one-half of whom were appointed by the State Council of Student Body Presidents, to establish rules and guidelines ensuring fairness and due process in judicial proceedings involving students in the State University System. The law re-created the committee as a standing committee. The Florida Student Association lobbied the board of Regents to reconvene the committee, which subsequently met for nine months drafting substantial amendments to the system-wide rule that further protected student rights. The board of Regents adopted the amendments. See section 120, 81(1)(g), Florida Statutes, and rule 6C 6.0105, Florida Administrative Code.

    1999

  • Veto of Tuition Increase

    The Legislature passed a 10-percent tuition increase (5-percent across-the-board increase and 5-percent differential tuition) in the General Appropriations Act (Senate Bill 2500). The Florida Student Association opposed the tuition increase, lobbied the Legislature against the increase, and addressed the editorial boards of newspapers across the state. The newspaper did not publish editorials against the tuition increase until after the Legislature had passed its budget and adjourned sine die. The Florida Student Association lobbied the Governor's office, seeking a veto of the tuition increase. On May 27, 1999, Governor Jeb Bush used the line-item-veto authority to strike the 5-percen across-the-board increase of the matriculation fee and out-of-state tuition fee from the budget. The veto saved the students of the State University System a total of $16,982,006 (plus compounding interest). See Chapter 99.226, Laws of Florida.

    1996

  • On-campus Voter Registration

    The Legislature passed Committee Substitute for Senate Bill 2008 (Chapter 96-327, Laws of Florida), which allows the university student government to request the university to be designated by the county supervisor of election as a "qualifying educational institution" if the university has at least 200 students who are at least 18 years of age. After being designated a qualifying education institution, the required voter registration forms to be distributed on campus and required the university to conduct voter registration on campus at least once each year. In addition, the law encouraged the university to conduct voter registration at other times and places, such as upon application for financial aid, during admissions, at registration, upon issuance of student identifications, and at new-student orientation programs. The Florida Student Association lobbied in favor of the law as part of "Register Once," a national voter registration campaign for university students. See sections 97.021(23), 97.052(1)(b)6., and 97.0583, Florida Statutes.

    1995

  • Faculty Evaluations

    The Legislature passed Senate Bill 2404 (Chapter 95-246, Laws of Florida), which ensured that common core items in the State University System Student Assessment of Instruction instrument (student evaluations of faculty performance) are public records. These records were not previously open to review for students. See section 240.253(4), Florida Statutes.

    1994

  • Differential Tuition

    The Legislature passed Committee Substitute for Senate Bill 636 (Chapter 94-230, Laws of Florida), which allowed each university, if permitted in the General Appropriations Act, to vary the matriculation fee and the out-of-state tuition fee by no more than 10 percent from the standard fee rates authorized in the appropriations act. Because the law allowed increased tuition rates, the Florida Student Association opposed it as a compromise, the law was amended to require that revenues from differential tuition could only be expended to implement plans that are recommended by a university-wide committee, composed at least one-half of students appointed by the student body president. See section 240.209(3)(c)3., Florida Statutes.

    1991

  • Financial Aid Appeals

    The Legislature passed Committee Substitute for Senate Bill 608 (Chapter 91-233, Laws of Florida), which established that one student enrolled in a public postsecondary institution in this state, nominated by the Florida Student Association, shall sit on the committee within the Office of Student Financial Assistance of the Department of Education which considers appeals that are not resolved by other administrative action regarding the eligibility of applicants for receiving state student financial aid awards. See section 240.4042(1), Florida Statutes.

    1990

  • Florida Office of Collegiate Volunteerism

    The Legislature established an Office for Campus Volunteers to raise the awareness and participation of students attending Florida's public and independent postsecondary institutions in community-based volunteer programs. The office was created in the 1990-1991 General Appropriations Act (House Bill 3701) because of the lobbying efforts by the student body vice president of Florida State University, with assistance from the Florida Student Association. The Legislature has provided the office with annual funding in the appropriations act. See chapter 90-209, Laws of Florida.

    1987

  • Florida Prepaid College Program

    The Legislature passed Committee Substitute for Committee Substitute for House Bills 47 and 17 (Chapter 87-132, Laws of Florida), which created the Florida Prepaid College Program. See Section 240.551, Florida Statutes. The Florida Prepaid College Program, which is guaranteed by the state of Florida, offers three separate contracts that cover the costs of tuition, local fees, and dormitory fees at Florida's state universities and public community colleges. The Florida Student Association assisted in the lobbying efforts to bring this higher education program to the state universities.

    1984

  • Student Judicial Proceedings

    The Legislature passed Senate Bill 723 (Chapter 84-203, Laws of Florida), which exempted students from administrative hearings before impartial hearing officers at the Division of Administrative Hearings while the bill reduced student rights, the Florida Student Association successfully lobbied to include provisions in the law that allowed a committee, at least one-half of whom were appointed by the State Council of Student Body Presidents, to establish by January 1, 1985, rules and guidelines ensuring fairness and due process in Judicial proceedings involving students in the State University System. See former section 120.57(5), Florida Statutes. The committee drafted a system-wide rule, which was adopted by the Board of Regents as rule 6C-6.0105, Florida Administrative Code.

    1983

  • Student Fees

    The Legislature passed Senate Bill 16-B (Chapter 83-326, Laws of Florida), which established the health fee and athletic fee as separate fees from the student activity and service fee. The law required that any increases in the three fees must be recommended by the committees, each composed at least one half of students appointed by the student body president. In addition, the university president could only implement fee increases after consultation with the student body president and final approval by the Board of Regents. The law also eliminated the authority of the university president to reallocate the vetoed portion of the student activity and service fund to intercollegiate athletics and the health service, but continued authority for these funds to be reallocated to bond obligations guaranteed by student activity and service fees. See section 240.235(1), Florida Statutes.

    1981

  • Fixed Capital Fees

    The Legislature passed Senate Bill 51 (Chapter 81-263, Laws of Florida), which requires prior consultation with the university student government before a university proposes projects to the Board of Regents for funding using Capital Improvement Trust Fund fees or building fees. See section 240.295(3), Florida Statutes.

  • Partial Defeat of the 30% Tuition Increase

    In 1981, the Association faced the strongest initiative to raise tuition. Governor Bob Graham and House Leadership supported a six-year plan proposing to raise tuition by 30% per year. This plan was devised to make up for no tuition increases in the past years and bring Florida in line with the tuition cost figures of the Carnegie System. The Association opposed the tuition increase, and lobbied for a substantial decrease. In the end, the Legislature agreed to a one-year 16% tuition increase. The largest part of the victory was defeating the six-year proposal at 30% per year. See chapter 81, Laws of Florida.

    1980

  • Student Activity and Service Fees

    The Legislature passed House Bill 460 (Chapter 80-14, Laws of Florida), which clarified the procedures followed when the university president vetoes the student activity and service fee budget after it is submitted by the university student government. The law allowed the university president 15 days to veto the budget revisions for the vetoed portion of the student activity and service fund. The law limited the authority of the university president to reallocate student activity and service fees only to the vetoed portion of the fund, but continues authority for these funds to be reallocated to intercollegiate athletics, health services, and bond obligations. The law also clarified that the fees may only be reallocated to bond obligations guaranteed by student activity and service fees, See section 240.235(1), Florida Statutes.

  • Defeat of the 30% Tuition Increase

    The Florida House of Representatives proposed a 30% across the board tuition increase for public higher education. The Association opposed the tuition increase, lobbied the Florida Senate for a 0% increase, and addressed the print and news media around the state of Florida. The association was successful in its efforts and the Florida legislature ultimately supported no increase in tuition for the students of the State University System. See chapter 80, Laws of Florida.

  • Gender Equity in Intercollegiate Athletics

    The Legislature passed House Bill 556 (Chapter 80-359, Laws of Florida), which created within the Board of Regents a Council on Equity in Athletics. The bill designated the president of the State council of Student Body Presidents as a member of the council. See section 240.533(2)(a)3., Florida Statutes.

    1979

  • Educational Research Centers for Child Development

    The Legislature passed Committee Substitute for Senate Bill 705 (Chapter 79,197, Laws of Florida), which allowed university student governments to establish educational research centers for child development with the approval of the university president. See section 240.531, Florida Statutes.

  • Educational Revision

    The Legislature passed Committee Substitute for House Bill 1689 (Chapter 79-222, Laws of Florida), which generally revised the chapters governing postsecondary education. The law re-created the section allowing the university student government to allocate and expend the student activity and service fee, subject to the veto of the university president. The law retained the authority of the university president to reallocate student activity and service fees to health services, intercollegiate athletics, and current bond obligations. The law also exempted the student regent from a requirement that no more than one member of the Board of Regents may reside in the same county.

    1978

  • Student regent (voting)

    The Legislature passed Senate Bill 958 (Chapter 78-416, Laws of Florida), which elevated the non-voting student member of the Board of Regents to the status of a voting member. See section 240.207(1), Florida Statutes.

    1977

  • Student regent (non-voting)

    The Legislature passed House Bill 2050 (Chapter 77-442, Laws of Florida), which added a full-time student appointed by the Governor as a non-voting member of the Board of Regents.

  • Collective Bargaining

    The Legislature passed Senate Bill 1449 (Chapter 77-343, Laws of Florida), which allows a student representative selected elected by the State council of Student Body Presidents to be present at all negotiating sessions which take place between the Board of Regents and the bargaining agent for an employee bargaining unit. See sections 447.203(18) and 447.301(%), Florida Statutes.

    1976

  • Student Regent (vetoed)

    The Legislature passed Senate Bill 259, which added a full-time student appointed by the Governor as a voting member of the Board of Regents. Governor Reubin Askew, who had served as student body president of Florida State University, subsequently vetoed the bill.

  • Florida Student Association

    The State Council of Student Body Presidents incorporated the Florida Student Association, Inc., as a Florida Corporation on November 17, 1976. The Association is a not for profit, private corporation, established under chapter 617 of the Florida Statutes.

    1974

  • Student Activity Fees

    The State Council of Student Body Presidents and students of the State University System organized and collected together as the Florida Student Lobby to request activity and service fee control. The Legislature passed House Bill 2892 (Chapter 74-312, Laws of Florida), which allowed the university student governments to allocate and expend the student activity fee, subject to the veto of the university president. The bill also authorized the university president to reallocate student activity fees to health services, intercollegiate athletics, and current bond obligations.

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