Gov. Rick Scott will decide whether the University of Florida and Florida State University will be able to increase tuition more than 15 percent per year.
State law now caps the amount state universities can hike costs to students at 15 percent.
But in March lawmakers passed a bill to eliminate the tuition increase caps at UF and FSU.
Scott has spoken out against tuition increases, but Thursday he listened to the university presidents make a case for the increases.
Eric Barron is FSU President: “If I’m losing faculty, it’s harder for our students to have classes and it slows down their ability to finish.That’s a waste of state dollars and that’s a waste of student dollars.”
Barron says his school is hurting. State budget cuts have cost the university 300 professors in four years. Many are leaving for better paying jobs.
“If you want innovation, if you want STEM jobs, you can’t do that by teaching people in a 300 people classroom,” he said.
If the governor signs the bill, FSU administrators say tuition would increase modestly next year, but the big increase would come in 2014.
Bernie Machen, UF president, has different plans: “We will take a year to get our plan together, get it approved by the board of governors, and we will only start with incoming freshman.”
At the meeting, a half-dozen students sat in the back row hoping to speak out against the bill. One of those was Michael Sampson, an FSU senior.
“We feel as though the student voice wasn’t heard today," he said "The students had no opportunity to speak. That is definitely problematic.”
Students have sent thousands of emails and letters asking Scott for a veto.
“You want to make sure that families in this state can afford a great education and you want to make sure it’s a great education,” Sampson said.
Business groups were on hand to support the increase. They argued that the extra money will make the universities better, the workforce smarter and will attract high-tech businesses to Florida.