In a united front, presidents from Florida’s 12 public universities are proposing a plan to fund education without increasing costs to students.
At the state capitol Wednesday, the presidents announced they’ll freeze tuition if lawmakers will pump an extra 118 million dollars into education.
“With an investment provided for our students we promise not to seek one penny as a tuition increase this year,” said Judy Bense of the University of West Florida.
The announcement is a reversal from a 2008 pledge to raise tuition 15% a year until Florida reaches the national average. The presidents see an opportunity in a new legislature and renewed focus on education.
“There’s no question that we are the fifth lowest state in terms of tuition in the country, but fundamentally the governor and students are saying we don’t want to see it go up any more,” said John Delaney of the University of North Florida.
Governor Rick Scott has taken a hard-line stance against tuition hikes, comparing them to tax increases and vowing to stop them.
“The governor is very opposed to increasing tuition and we understand and we also are concerned about the students,” said Judy Genshaft of the University of South Florida.
Cortez Whatley is the student body president at the University of Central Florida. He says four straight years of tuition hikes are taking a toll on his classmates. “The traditional student is much different that it was in the past. Students are working two or three jobs, paying for their own schooling and they’re really suffering for that.”
With a proposal on the table, next comes the negotiation with state lawmakers over where to find the extra cash.
Chairwoman of the House Education Committee after the announcement said it’s still too early to tell if the legislature can find the 118 million dollars the presidents are requesting.