Tuition increase motors on fast track
Wesley Chapel Republican Rep. Will Weatherford's plan to allow all state universities to raise tuition up to 15 percent a year until they reach the national average is headed to the House floor after breezing through the full appropriations council on education & economic development.
Today's 18-1 vote (Rep. Marty Kiar, D-Davie was the nay) came without the drama of the previous committee stop, where the founder and namesake of Florida's prepaid tuition program argued the bill would put college out of reach for many low-income families.
HB 403 allows all 11 state universities the authority to charge a tuition differential, subject to approval by the Board of Governors. Previously, UF, FSU, USF, UCF and FIU had such ability. Seventy percent of the revenue would be put to education costs, while the other 30 percent would be devoted to need-based aid.
The tuition differential is not covered by Bright Futures scholarships or any prepaid contracts sold after July 1, 2007.
Laymon Hicks, student body president at FSU, told the committee that students are in favor of the bill.
For his part, Kiar said he couldn't support the bill at this time because of the economy. Weatherford said it's his goal to get Kiar to vote for one of his bills.
According to the College Board, the national average for in-state tuition was $6,585 for 2008-09. The Florida average was $3,792.
Amy Hollyfield, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau