Community Colleges Urge Veto of Tuition Hike Bill

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Florida's community colleges are urging Jeb Bush to veto a bill that would jack up tuition rates for more than half their students.

The legislation charges students out-of-state rates for credits over and above what they need to graduate. It's supposed to encourage students to graduate on time, but community colleges say it discourages students from finding out what they're really interested in.

Cory Kalifeh is about to get his associate's degree from a community college with 17 more credits than he needs.

He has mixed feelings about legislation that would charge students out-of-state tuition if they go 15 percent or more over their credit requirements.

“I've taken a lot more classes just trying to get things done, and I don't think it would be fair if I had to pay that, but if people stayed longer than they should be and just, like, playing around in school, than I think they should have to pay more.”

That's what supporters of the legislation are concerned about. Campuses crowded with students taking extra courses they don't need make it a lot tougher on students waiting to get in.

But educators argue the first couple of years should be about trying new things. Community college presidents want Jeb Bush to veto the bill.

Bill Law is the president of Tallahassee Community College and says, “Freshmen and sophomores are where we want students to take courses that they might not ever take again. That should be the chance to experiment in the best sense of learning.”

The governor sounds like he's inclined to agree.

“Including the community colleges into that is something that give me concern, because community college students are in a different circumstance than a graduate or out-of-state student.

But supporters say something should be done. Students taking five or six years to graduate cost the state more than 60 million additional dollars a year.

Once the paperwork gets to his desk, the governor has 15 days to sign or veto the bill.