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Tuition increase could hit 10 percent

The Senate is considering a 10 percent increase, but the governor and House are suggesting less.

By SHELBY OPPEL

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 14, 2000


TALLAHASSEE -- State university and community college students are facing a tuition increase this fall of as much as 10 percent.

The 10 percent increases are included in the Senate's preliminary budget proposal. Smaller, but still significant, tuition increases are in the budgets proposed by the House and Gov. Jeb Bush.

In 1998-99, only Nevada had lower in-state tuition than Florida, according to the State University System. University students pay only 21 percent of their education costs, said Sen. Donald C. "Don" Sullivan, R-Seminole, who leads the Senate committee in charge of the education budget.

To see improvements in technology, libraries and other campus facilities, students must pay more, he said.

"I think (students) have to realize . . . this is not a whole lot more than a cost-of-living increase," Sullivan said.

The Senate's tuition request exceeds proposals from Bush and the House. Bush wants to allow all 10 universities to raise tuition by 6.5 percent. The House wants to offer the option of a 5 percent increase.

Neither the House nor Bush wants to raise community college fees. Sullivan said the Senate's proposed 10 percent increase for those students is likely to be reduced during budget negotiations.

For universities, however, the Senate wants to require a 5 percent tuition increase and offer universities the option to tack on another 5 percent, for a total potential increase of 10 percent.

The Legislature recommended a similar plan last year. Bush vetoed the required 5 percent increase, allowing universities the option of collecting up to 5 percent. Before the veto, eight of 10 universities had planned to adopt the full 10 percent increase.

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