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State universities panel okays higher tuition
But that doesn't assure the 5 percent hike for college classes will necessarily stick.
By JENNIFER LIBERTO, Times Staff Writer
Published September 28, 2007
Chancellor Mark Rosenberg urged the university presidents to enact the tuition hike.
TALLAHASSEE -- Students enrolled in state universities face a $55 increase in their tuition bill for a full load of classes this spring after the Board of Governors unanimously decided Thursday to raise tuition by 5 percent.
The increase affects all in-state undergraduates, starts January 2008 and bumps the current credit hour cost of $73.71 by an additional $3.68.
"This is clearly about quality of higher education and trying to find a way to slow down the deterioration," said Mark Rosenberg, chancellor of the state's 11 public universities.
It's the first time the Board of Governors has asserted its authority to raise tuition. A pending court ruling will decide whether the board or the Legislature has the power to set university tuition.
Regardless of what happens with the lawsuit, the 5 percent tuition hike might just stick, because legislative leaders who are in town to plug a $1-billion hole in the state budget, agree with the Board of Governors that tuition should go up by 5 percent starting for the spring term.
But the Legislature intends to go even further and raise community college tuition, as well. While the university system increase would raise $9.5-million through the end of the fiscal year, the community college hike would raise another $11.4-million.
The Legislature intends to ensure that there is sufficient money in the budget to cover the cost of Bright Futures scholarships.
As for the state's prepaid tuition plan, it is built to withstand such increases as long as they don't exceed 8 percent a year, according to Senate staff.
Rep. Joe Pickens, R-Palatka, the lead House education budget writer, said the Legislature's move to raise tuition had nothing to do with the Board of Governors' move.
He said the hike was a "reflection of the same thought process that the House and the Senate had in the regular session," when they passed an across the board 5 percent hike that Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed.
"Enrollment's up, and it looks like it's going to continue to go up. You can't increase enrollment if you don't increase dollars," Pickens said.
If there is a battle over tuition hikes, it will be with Gov. Charlie Crist, who has said that the budget crunch shouldn't justify raising tuition this spring. Governor's spokesman Anthony DeLuise said on Thursday that "this is the beginning of the process and there will be a lot of give and take along the way."
During the Board of Governors meeting, Rosenberg urged the university presidents to enact the tuition hike and show solidarity.
Florida State University president T. K. Wetherell said after the meeting that while he intends to follow the mandate, he had some concerns about the timing of the board's vote, given the pending court case.
His spokeswoman, Browning Brooks, explained it would be an "administrative nightmare" to change all the systems to raise tuition and then have to reverse it if the circuit court rules that the board doesn't have tuition-setting authority.