Scott doesn’t think board will grant “significant” tuition hikesby John Kennedy | June 20th, 2012
Gov. Rick Scott said Wednesday that he didn’t expect leaders of the state university system to approve much in the way of tuition increases, saying he thought they shared the same goals.
Scott’s comments came shortly after Florida Atlantic University President M.J. Saunders made her school’s pitch for a 15 percent tuition hike at the Board of Governors’ meeting in Orlando, which is considering 2012-13 “work plans” for Florida’s 11 public universities.
The plans include academic and enrollment goals, spending proposals and performance data. But for the universities this year, money is key.
Most are seeking 15 percent boosts to at least partially offset a $300 million budget cut to schools imposed by the Florida Legislature. Scott is unfazed.
“I believe the Board of Governors is going to look at those work plans,” Scott said following an address to a Rotary Club in Tallahassee. “I think they have the same goals as I have. They’re going to watch out how the money is spent. You know I’m very concerned about tuition.”
Scott said that given the economic pressure on Florida’s families and the debt students are currently carrying, “I’ll be surprised if there’s significant tuition increases.”
Scott, however, isn’t authorized to block any increase granted by the board, which is expected to vote Thursday. Scott sidestepped a question about whether he was exploring ways to challenge any tuition hike — if it came to that.
Saunders told the Board’s Strategic Planning Committee reviewing the work plans that FAU has shouldered a $77 million decline in state dollars from 2008 through last year, before facing a $24.7 million reduction this fall. Without a 15 percent tuition hike, the school has warned that 500 course offerings could be threatened, along with 75 faculty and 9 advisor positions.
FAU already plans to close its downtown Fort Lauderdale tower campus and Treasure Coast campus in Port St. Lucie, moving programs to the school’s nearby branches.
“We knew that if we were to keep our university strong, we had to reduce our administrative overhead,” Saunders said.