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Student Leaders Meet with Gov. Crist

September 4th, 2007 by flanews

     State lawmakers are just two weeks away from a special session to slash more than $1 billion dollars from the budget.  A plan to hike tuition by as much as five percent could be revived despite an earlier veto from Governor Charlie Crist.   As Chris Casquejo tells us, the governor and student leaders from Florida’s 11 public universities sat down to talk about ways to keep higher education a priority in these times of cutting.

Hear it hear:  Student Leaders Meet with Gov. Crist 

     “Classes are filled,” said University of South Florida student president Barclay Harless.  “You have students sitting the floor, they’re taking classes at University Mall.”
     Harless says 80 percent of his classmates take longer than 4 years to graduate.
     “Students that are in the science and engineering field where they are required to take courses one after the other often can’t get a course or can’t get it in time,” he said.
     More time in school equals bigger debt for many students.  And they know that a tuition hike in January is a very real possibility.
     Student leaders say that tuition only represents a small amount of what it costs to attend college each year.
     “That’s because there’s mandatory health insurance at FSU,” said Joe O’Shea, Florida State’s student president.  “There’s mandatory meal plans at the dorms and housing is very expensive.”
     Governor Charlie Crist offered California’s higher education system as a possible model for Florida to keep college costs down.
     “We talk about many times a tiered system where you have an opportunity at the community college to pretty much assure access,” Crist said.
     But students say, even that has a price.
     “They’ve made a priority of access into their system, from the amount of need-based financial aid they’ve pumped into their system,” O’Shea said.
     And in these lean times, students realize that getting more state funding for financial aid is a long shot.
     Florida ranks near the bottom in tuition rates nationally.  The student meeting was part of the governor’s “Tallahassee Tuesdays,” informal gatherings where the Governor and citizens can exchange ideas and discuss Florida’s future.

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