Students Blast Proposed Tuition Hike

College students are blasting Governor Jeb Bush for plans to raise tuition again this year. The governor’s budget proposal comes on the heels of a multi-million dollar plan to attract more minority and low-income students to Florida schools. But the students say you can’t have it both ways.

The prospect of another tuition hike at a time when the state budget is flush with cash makes Florida A&M University Student President Ramon Alexander angry.

Just a few weeks ago, the Governor announced a plan to add millions of dollars to help more minority and low-income students attend college.

Alexander says Jeb Bush is sending a mixed message. “The Governor has to understand that we can’t have it both ways. We can’t continue to say we’re advocating for access and diversity and continue to close the door on access and diversity through increases in tuition.

The Governor’s spending plan for the coming year calls for a five percent in-state tuition increase and a 7.5 percent tuition hike for out-of-state students. Student leaders from across the state are demanding a meeting.

The Governor’s office says it is willing to meet with students to talk about tuition hikes. But Lt. Gov. Toni Jennings says there’s only so much they can do.

Jennings says the universities, not the Governor, determine how much to raise tuition each year. And she says he’s not necessarily endorsing the idea even though it’s in his budget. “Because the Governor said he would support legislation to allow an increase doesn’t mean it ought to just automatically go up.

But critics point out the cost of tuition on Florida campuses has risen about 40 percent since Jeb Bush took office, and they fear it’s pricing many students out of higher education entirely.

Student leaders from Florida’s universities have asked to meet with Bush Friday to talk about the proposed tuition increases.