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House approves tuition hikes for UF and FSU

Friday, March 2nd, 2012 by Dara Kam

The Florida House signed off on a plan to allow Florida State University and the University of Florida to set higher tuition than the state’s nine other public universities in a move to boost the two institutions’ national prominence.

The passage of the bill (HB 7129) is the latest effort in a decades-long attempt to create a tiered university system, something GOP leaders say is necessary for Florida’s higher ed system to compete with other states’ universities.

The bill allows research universities that meet certain standards – right now, UF and FSU – to charge higher tuition and fees than the other universities and also authorizes those universities to establish required courses for certain students.

Critics of the plan, which the House passed 85-28, say the hikes impose too much of a financial burden on already cash-strapped poor students.

California has seven Association of American Universities “pre-eminent” research universities, while Florida has just one, the bill sponsor Bill Proctor, R-St. Augustine, said.

“That’s shameful,” Proctor, the chancellor of the private Flagler College and a former member of the state Board of Education. Proctor said his plan will help Florida compete for businesses who want to relocate to regions with premiere research universities.

“Nothing is as important to economic recovery to this state as what you do to the state universities,” Proctor said.

Tuition at UF, FSU and three other universities has climbed 60 percent over the past four years, and 45 percent at five other schools, including Florida Atlantic University. Universities can seek as much as a 15 percent tuition hike each year but require approval for the increases from the universities’ Board of Governors, which has not rejected any university’s tuition request.

Rep. Dwight Bullard, a teacher, called the measure irresponsible.

“If we’re supposed to be up here looking out for the best interests of our constituents, we can’t go about doing tuition increases that large,” Bullard, D-Miami, said.

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.

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