Scott receives tuition "preeminence" bill
Gov. Rick Scott got an earful yesterday from higher education leaders about why he should sign a bill allowing certain universities to charge higher "market-rate" tuition. Now he has 15 days to make a decision, receiving HB 7129 today.
The bill would allow universities the power to ask for essentially unlimited tuition increases from their boards of trustees and the Florida Board of Governors, provided they meet 11 of 14 benchmarks. Those include having incoming freshmen with very high GPAs and test scores, having a large amount of research activity, and other quality standards. Only the University of Florida and Florida State University currently meet those criteria.
Presidents of both those universities have, unsurprisingly, lobbied hard for the bill. UF President Bernie Machen says he'll use the extra money to hire faculty. FSU President Eric Barron wants to increase his university's entrepreneurial endeavors and invest more in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs.
The push comes as the state university is having to brace for significant state budget cuts for the fifth year in a row. Tuition dollars have gone up steadily in the same time period, 15 percent per year since 2008, but they've not come close to filling the gap in state funding.
Scott has said he does not believe in tuition increases, but on Thursday told the presidents he understood their desire for more funding to achieve excellence.
He later told reporters he had not yet decided whether to sign or veto the bill.