UPR president: Tuition exemptions, Christmas bonuses and health contributions defended
SAN JUAN – The University of Puerto Rico Governing Board defended the permanence of student tuition exemptions, including those for student-athletes, as well as the year-end salary, or Christmas, bonuses and contributions to the healthcare plan, UPR President Jorge Haddock said in a letter.
The UPR submitted Friday its revised version of the fiscal plan, which was made public this week by the Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority.
The Financial Oversight and Management Board wants to eliminate all enrollment exemptions except those granted to honor students. The aid given to children of veterans will remain at 100 percent.
Haddock said in a letter dated Sept. 10 that the Governing Board maintained the tuition exemptions for graduate assistantships and student representation before the University Board and the Governing Board. There was a slight increase in the graduate-level credits for 2021 as requested by the fiscal board.
With the changes, the total potential in scholarships for UPR students is $36 million.
“I guarantee you that I will work very hard to mitigate the impact of these measures on our students and staff. A fiscal plan is not written in stone, it is a document open to amendments. To the extent that we can implement our work plan and demonstrate the sustainability of the institution’s finances, we will have real autonomy and what the [fiscal oversight board] requires will not be necessary,” Haddock said in his letter.
The current fiscal plan indicates there is no capacity to sustain any debt during the plan’s period.
“Cash flows available for debt service (post capital improvements and pension payments) are projected to be negative through the projection period. As of July 2018, UPR had $451 million in outstanding indebtedness composed of $389 million of Revenue Bonds and $62 million of AFICA [Spanish acronym for Puerto Rico Industrial, Tourist, Educational, Medical and Environmental Control Facilities Financing Authority] Bonds Average weighted interest rate of 5.00% for the Revenue Bonds and 5.25% for the AFICA bonds,” the document reads.