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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Machen: UF only seeking 9 percent tuition hike

It seems University of Florida President Bernie Machen has had a change of heart.

After fighting hard last legislative session for the power to raise UF's tuition to the national average, about $8,000 a year, Machen now says he only wants to hike tuition 9 percent, the Gainesville Sun is reporting.

“I am ready to pause the notion of using tuition as the main source of getting us out of this problem,” Machen said, referring to the university system's fifth straight year of state budget cuts.

With UF's current tuition rate at about $5,700 a year on average, 9 percent is still a good chunk of change for parents and students. But it could have been worse.

Under a program known as tuition differential, universities are allowed to hike tuition beyond whatever base tuition hikes are imposed by the Legislature, so long as the total increase does not exceed 15 percent per year. This year lawmakers didn't increase the base at all, leaving it up to universities to seek that full 15 percent -- if they wanted.

The UF Board of Trustees still needs to vote on the hike, and it'll then go to the Florida Board of Governors later this month.

Because of those continual state cuts, students are now shouldering a larger cost of their education than every before -- at or above 50 percent. Just a few years ago, students were expected to cover about 25 percent of that cost, while the state paid for the rest.

The University of South Florida's Board of Trustees will make its own decision on tuition at a meeting next week.

Meanwhile, the Sun is also reporting that Machen, whose contract is up next year, has officially announced he will retire at that time. Machen told his board of trustees that he would remain until a search for his successor is complete, a process that the board chairman said would start next month and likely take six months to a year. Machen has been at UF since 2004.

[Last modified: Friday, June 8, 2012 12:48pm]


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