Published: January 21, 2010
Erika Hofelich ‘11 didn’t know much about the Florida Resident Access
Grant other than it helped her attend the private university close to
It wasn’t until she was selected as a fellow for the
Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida, and tasked with
organizing a grassroots effort to ensure the grant’s viability, that
Hofelich realized its importance.
“People have stereotypes that
private schools are for rich, snobby kids,” Hofelich said. “But ICUF
schools provide more funding to underprivileged families than state
Hofelich chose UT because of the small class size, the
intimacy with the professors and the proximity to her home. That’s
because Hofelich has a severe bleeding disorder that requires frequent
“The University of Tampa was perfect for me. I
love that my professors understand my conditions and work to make sure I
am still able to participate, even from a hospital room,” said Hofelich
who is majoring in government and world affairs.
But to attend
UT, Hofelich needed financial aid. As a bright student, she received
several academic scholarships, and as a Florida resident who wanted to
attend a private school, she qualified for the Florida Resident Access
When she started school, Hofelich said the grant was
about $5,000. Now it’s almost half that. As an ICUF fellow, Hofelich is
organizing a grassroots campaign starting at UT, to educate her
classmates on the grant and to let their elected leaders know how
important the funding is for pursuing their academic goals.
“If our representatives aren’t going to increase the funding, they should at least maintain it,” she said.
ICUF school has a fellow leading this grassroots campaign. The most
active leaders, including Hofelich, were selected to go to Tallahassee
Jan. 19 to meet with ICUF leaders and Florida politicians.
part of her plan, Hofelich said she is writing press releases and
drafting editorials for local media, organizing a letter writing
campaign for UT’s Student Government and National Panhellenic Council,
and reaching out to community groups in Tampa as a way to educate and
bring attention to the issue.
Included in her talking points are the following:
- ICUF Schools produce 31 percent of the total degrees in Florida for
less than 1.3 percent of what the state spends in higher education.
- Florida’s independent colleges and universities enrolled more than 32,000 Florida Resident Access Grant recipients last year.
- Cuts to the Florida Resident Access Grant place increased pressure
on Florida’s state universities and community colleges as our students
would be forced to leave school and transfer to the public institutions
where the state costs are much higher to the taxpayer.
“Erika is extremely dedicated to doing whatever it takes to draw
attention to the importance of the Florida Resident Access Grant for
University of Tampa students” said Stephanie Russell Holz, associate
Dean of Students and director of the Office of Student Leadership and
Engagement. Holz is Hofelich’s mentor for the program.
daughter of a U.S. Air Force serviceman, Hofelich has traveled around
the world and grown up with an interest in government affairs. She works
part-time with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, a job she
acquired with the help of UT’s Career Services, and hopes to work with
the Department of Defense where she has already secured a summer
“I’m interested in other cultures, travel and I have
a profound admiration for the military,” Hofelich said. “Because of my
health, I can’t serve. This is the next best thing.”
She said her volunteer work with ICUF is giving her the hands-on experience she needs for a successful career.
is giving me real-world experience,” she said. “ICUF schools provide
more than just an education to people who attend them.”
Jamie Pilarczyk, Web Writer
Sign up for UT Web Alerts