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Tuition Battle Brewing

February 14th, 2008 by Mike Vasilinda

A battle over how much tuition Universities can charge in the wake of pending budget cuts is brewing at the state capitol. In a meeting between the House Speaker and all 11 University presidents, there seems to be agreement that some tuition hike was needed to make cuts less severe. But as Mike Vasilinda tells us, one important voice is saying no.

College students in Florida are already paying more. Tuition went up 55 dollars a semester in January. Even so, Florida is still 49th nationally in tuition.

All 11 university presidents were called to the Capitol. They are facing a cut this spring and more cuts next fall. They paint a dire picture.

“The cuts that we have hear being discussed, plus the cuts that are coming could result in the loss of 2,500 faculty members for the state university system,” Florida International University President MitchMaidique said.

Caps on enrollment are becoming more likely. Even guaranteed transfers from Community colleges may be in doubt.  University Chancellor Mark Rosenberg says the answer is more  money and flexibility to charge what the market will bear for some majors.

“The net affect would enable us to hire the faculty and advisors, raise the graduation rates,” Rosenberg said.

The schools stressed that they are part of Florida’s economic engine. They promised to prove that every dollar produces results.

The Governor has already said that he doesn’t want a tuition hike this year. But he hasn’t said he’d veto it if it was sent to him.

“We’ve put together a budget from the Governor’s office that gives some increases at the universities without having to raise tuition,” Crist said.

If they sent it to you?

“If they sent it to me? I hope they don’t,” Crist said.

So battle lines are being drawn. For those seeking a slot at a state university, it is likely to get harder before it gets easier.

The universities say they need as much as 200 million more a year for the next 5 years to continue to improve the quality of a college education.

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