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Will free market economics convince Gov. Scott to raise tuition?

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012 by Dara Kam

House Speaker Dean Cannon used a free-market argument will persuade Gov. Rick Scott to sign off on a proposal allowing the University of Florida and Florida State University to charge higher tuitions than the state’s nine other public universities.

Scott said he does not want a tuition hike for university students and their parents, but Cannon said he hopes to get Scott on board with the proposal already agreed to by House and Senate leaders.

“I think it’s important to note that there’s a big difference between the cost of gasoline or the cost of your utility bill where you’re actually paying for something and then you get a degree for it which enables you to make money,” Cannon told reporters this evening.

He said it’s important to draw a distinction between the state’s universities because “the value of a degree from FSU is probably different in terms of real earning capacity than the value of a degree from New College,” and launched into a free-market idea businessman Scott might like.

“Market rates on tuition, at least for our top-tier universities, is a good idea,” Cannon said. “The governor, I hope, would be supportive of the notion of letting the market drive the tuition at least at our premier universities and avoiding government price controls and pricing unlike products the same.”

Cannon would not weigh in on whether a controversial separation of the University of South Florida Polytechnic from the University of South Florida, pushed by Senate budget chief JD Alexander, was a good idea.

“I don’t want the debate over USF/Poly or any position I may take on it to distract from the greater goal of driving a discussion about better overall system governance. We’ll sort of cross that bridge when we come to it,” he said.

Earlier today, Scott said he does not believe the state is ready for a twelfth university.

“I’m being very cautious about trying to add liabilities to the state. So can we afford a twelfth university? I want to make sure we can afford it,” Scott said, adding he is concerned about accreditation for the university.

House looks to boost university tuition — again

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012 by John Kennedy

Florida university students could face another round of 15 percent tuition hikes next fall, under a spending plan unveiled Tuesday by the House Higher Education budget committee.

Gov. Rick Scott, who has been pushing schools to expand their science, technology, education and mathematics programs, saying STEM degrees are what employers are seeking. But Scott, who has questioned the spending practices at state universities, notably didn’t call for a tuition increase in his $66.4 billion state budget proposal, released last month.

Committee Chair Marlene O’Toole, R-Lady Lake,  acknowledged that the proposed tuition hike will prove controversial — and may face open opposition from Scott. But with state support for universities slashed by 6.2 percent — following a pattern that has seen public funding reduced 17 percent between 2007 and 2010 — tuition’s role has grown.

Since Florida universities were authorized to boost tuition by as much as 15 percent, beginning in 2007, the cost for students and their families has climbed 60 percent. O’Toole pointed out, however, that Florida’s average $5,626 annual tuition is still among the lowest in the nation.

Colleges could increase their tuition by 8 percent next year, under the House proposal.

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