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Student disputes University of North Florida's on-campus housing policy

9:09 PM, Dec 3, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Academically, she's a junior and she happens to live a stone's throw away from campus.

But a student who is set to attend the University of North Florida is upset about the University's on-campus housing requirement.


She called the On Your Side team for answers.

Kayla Fucci earned her Associate's degree from Florida State College at Jacksonville a little more than a month before she graduated from high school. She said she shouldn't have to live on the campus of UNF.

The 19 year old wants to eventually work in child psychology and is set to attend UNF.

The university said she has to live on campus, but Fucci doesn't want too.

"Because, for one, I can't afford it. 2) I live less than a mile away from it and 3) In my mind, I'm not considered a freshman," she said.

The State University System defines an FTIC (First Time In College) student as someone who has earned less than 12 college credit hours after graduating high school.

"But, I've already experienced a freshman and sophomore year at a college," Kayla said. "So, I don't feel like it's necessary for me to have to go through that."

FCN took her concerns to Tom Serwatka, a UNF Vice President and Chief of Staff.

FCN asked if Fucci can possibly live off campus considering how close she already lives.

"I can't say no. But, I can say that it's unlikely at this point," Serwatka said. "Why I can't say no is, we've invited Kayla and her mother to come in and talk to us and they have yet to do so. There may be circumstances that I don't know that would allow for the exception. We certainly do allow for exceptions."

Exceptions like a terminally ill parent or religious reasons. Serwatka said this situation isn't new adding that 30% of students enter UNF with college credits, many with associates degrees.

Serwatka said the University requires students who are in college for the first time to live on campus, because it is beneficial to students. 

Serwatka provided FCN with figures based on first time in college students entering UNF in Fall 2012. According to UNF, the average grade point average was 2.95 for on-campus housing students versus a GPA of 2.85 for students living off-campus in 2012.

According to UNF, on-campus housing students successfully completed an average of 24.5 credit hours versus 22.6 for off-campus housing students.

Serwatka said the University has worked with Kayla and sent a financial aid offer to offset the cost of on campus living and meals.

"We're not after her money, OK?" Serwatka said bluntly. "We're willing to provide some money to help her. What we're after is her graduating in a timely fashion and being successful."

The ultimate decision is up to the president's office, but Fucci has to meet with the University for a resolution.

Fucci tells FCN she will meet with the University to talk about the situation.

First for you, to avoid a situation like this, and this differs with each institution:

1) Call your school's financial aid office or records and registration or the admissions office.

2) Have a face-to-face meeting to address any concerns and see what can be done in your particular situation.


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