Florida House passes bill allowing FSU & UF tuition increases beyond limit of other state universities

03/02/12 Janelle Irwin
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A bill that gives two State universities control over how much they can increase tuition cleared the Florida House this morning. Supporters of the measure claim it will make the state university system more competitive.

The legislation would exempt schools who meet certain benchmarks from a 15% per year cap on tuition increases. As it stands, only the University of Florida and Florida State University would be affected – the other nine state universities, including USF would still have a ceiling on how much they raise tuition each year. Representative Bill Proctor, a Republican from St. Augustine, said Florida needs to take steps to have more schools entered into the Association of American Universities which is a group of that only accepts major research institutions.

“That California has six AAU. Florida has one. If you’re thinking about where you want to move a business that is contingent upon technology, where would you look? Are you going to look at Florida with one or are you going to look at California with six – plus another one that happens to be independent so they really have seven? And we only have one. And that’s shameful.”

Opponents argue that the state should provide more funding so schools don’t have to rely so much on tuition. They’re also concerned that unlimited hikes will be an unfair burden to students. But Representative Seth McKeel, also a Republican, countered that UF and FSU have made provisions to help financially struggling students.

“The two university presidents who are contemplated in this bill have pledged to fill the gap and to cover the financial aid responsibilities of all of those who qualify for a Pell Grant. They’ve pledged that.”

A companion bill is still in a Senate Committee and it has already passed two committees unanimously. But, even if the measure passes the Senate, Governor Rick Scott could still veto it. He has said he is opposed to increasing tuition this year.

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