PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - N early 25 million dollars. That's the reality of what the state budget ax is chopping from the FAU budget. On the Port Saint Lucie campus, students and teachers worry they may soon be forced to go elsewhere.
"You can write right on it," said Professor Denise Hayden, as she handed exams to her elementary education students. It's final exam time. But their biggest test is yet to come, if budget cuts force the closure of the FAU Port St. Lucie campus.
“Not only are my students out of their education, but it puts their student loans into jeopardy and they can very much lose them. And then, yeah. I lose my livelihood," Hayden said.
The satellite campus serves 247 students. Some say it's the only available link to the degrees and jobs they want to pursue. Shutting it would force them to drive to Jupiter, Boca Raton or Fort Pierce for FAU classes. That's out of the question for Hannah Angeline. She lives in Port St. Lucie.
“I don’t have the opportunity to drive down to Jupiter, and Boca is totally unreachable for me, so I’m currently figuring out how I’m going to finish," Angeline said.
Nothing is finalized, but FAU must find a way to trim as much as $25 million from its budget. It's money axed by state lawmakers.
Jason Fitzugh says closing the campus could delay his graduation and cost him his financial aid.
“I’ll have to go in January, and my GI bill’s gone," he said. Fitzugh has three children. He worries about dwindling options.
“They don’t understand what kind of students are going here. There’s a lot of people that have kids and families and that have full time jobs, and they’re trying to get their education," Fitzugh said.
Professor Hayden is raising two children. She also hopes she's not about to endure a painful lesson on state budget priorities.
“And that’s really hard, especially after almost 11 years of being here, that’s tough," she said.
A university spokesperson says less than one percent of FAU's students go to the Port St. Lucie campus.
A decision on the future of the campus must be made before July 1.
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