Florida House Wants 6 Percent Tuition Hike For Universities and Colleges

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The House is pursuing a 6 percent tuition increase for state universities and colleges in the new budget despite opposition from Gov. Rick Scott and the Senate’s decision not to back a tuition increase.

House Appropriations Chairman Seth McKeel, R-Lakeland, said today that House leaders believe the tuition hike is appropriate given the financial needs of the schools as well as the fact that Florida’s tuition remains low compared to other universities and colleges nationally. The tuition proposal will be part of the budget documents House appropriations subcommittees will release later this week.

Florida’s tuition and fees for a public four-year university were ranked 41st in the annual survey released by The College Board last fall. Florida’s average annual cost of $6,232 was well below the national average of $8,655 _ although Florida has had one of the steepest increases over the last five years at 67 percent, exceeded only by Arizona and California.

Tuition and fees at Florida’s 28 state and community colleges are also among the bottom tier of states at $3,100 a year for two-year degrees, according to The College Board.

McKeel said the House is supporting a tuition increase in order to prevent Florida’s 12 universities from “falling further and further behind their peers throughout the country.”

“I just think we need to keep pace,” McKeel said.

The Senate is not including a tuition increase in its budget plan, Senate Education Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, said.

Both the House and Senate are restoring a $300 million cut that the universities took this year. Additionally, the Senate is advancing $58 million in funding for universities and colleges linked to generated degrees for high-demand jobs and $30 million for a research initiatives for the universities.

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