At the University System’s Board of Governors Meeting Thursday the hardest question came from the student member.
“I just wanted to ask if you could briefly comment on the 6% increase in the base tuition that was put into the House budget?” said Cortez Whatley.
Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford addressed the group just days after announcing a proposed six percent tuition increase. He answered the student’s question using his smart phone.
“The average student in Florida, what they actually pay out of pocket at our major universities, I believe all universities, is about the same amount of money as they spend on this,” said Weatherford.
University presidents are vowing not to raise tuition, if state lawmakers will restore last year’s 300 million dollar budget cut and add 100 million additional state dollars.
Weatherford says the state can restore the cut but students need to help pitch in the extra money. “The Florida House is putting a tremendous amount of investment into our higher education system, but we can’t deny the fact that we have some of the lowest tuition in the country and we have to make some movement on that front.”
The message to students is wait and see. Even if they get out of the legislative session without a tuition increase, they’d still have to convince the University System’s Board of Governors to keep the cost of college low.
“All of this is still in a state of flux and until the final day of legislative session it’s impossible to say where we’ll be,” said Frank Brogan.
The university presidents are still hoping to avoid a legislative tuition increase. Their secret weapon, Governor Rick Scott, who opposes increases and has veto power.
If the 6% hike gets through the legislature and past the governor, the University System’s Board of Governors couldn’t lower it, but they could vote to keep raising it up to the 15 state cap.