Two Florida universities could soon have the authority to raise tuition as much as they want. A bill removing the tuition rate cap for schools that meet certain criteria passed the House Education Committee Tuesday. So far only FSU and UF qualify. If the bill in the full legislature passes incoming freshman at UF and FSU may pay as much as 30 percent more.
These two FSU seniors are paying much higher tuition than they bargained for when they enrolled. Danielle Baker is a FSU Senior. "My freshman year three credit hours was 385 dollars. Now it’s $435.35.”
Erin Welch of Niceville is also a FSU Senior. “Tuition keeps going up and they cut the scholarships that I would have gotten and I was supposed to get.” “I work about 30 hours a week in addition to all my classes.”
Each year of their college careers, tuition has increased 15 percent, the max allowed by the state. Both students work two jobs to make ends meet. “When students are working two and three jobs it does cut back on participation.”
Despite the increases, tuition in Florida is among the lowest in the country. That could soon changes. FSU and UF are asking lawmakers to remove the 15 percent cap on how much they can raise tuition annually.
FSU President is Eric Barron. He says “Even a small difference in tuition can help you have a lot more faculty”.
Tuesday the House Education Committee gave the schools the go ahead. Neither school will say how much incoming freshman will pay if the bill becomes law, but the committee chairman Rep. Bill Proctor estimates 20 to 30 percent more. "They would have to have Board of Governors’ approval.”
The bill lays out 14 criteria for charging market value. Schools must achieve at least 11. The criteria include a high GPA for freshman classes, spending 200 million dollars on research and ranking in national surveys. UF meets all 14. FSU meets 11.
By increasing tuition UF and FSU say they can attract the best researchers and professors to Florida and become two of the top schools in the county. The tuition hike would also offset deep state budget cuts. FSU alone has lost more than 100 million dollars in state funding since 2007. Another 400 million dollar budget cut is being proposed for all state universities this legislative session.
(30 percent more at UF and FSU would be about 17-hundred dollars more)
Tuition at State Universities 2011-2012
And the news is bad for parents looking to buy Florida Prepaid College Plans. If the legislature gives UF and FSU the authority to raise tuition as much as they like, an extra plan may be needed to cover all the costs. Incoming freshman would be protected, but parents with younger children may be asked to pay hundreds of dollars more each month.
Representative Marty Kiar, who serves on the House Education Committee, asked to amend the bill to keep the cost of plans from going up. “This bill will make the prepaid program so unaffordable for folks that it will unfortunately probably deter a lot of people and a lot of kids from getting a higher education.”
The plans would still save families money, but paying up front may get harder.