House council busy on education bills
The House Schools and Learning Council was busy this morning, approving several bills affecting K-12 and higher education.
The council approved a bill (HB745) that opens up the "differential tuition" now available to USF, UF and FSU to UCF and likely FIU. The bill would change the current rules that allow USF to charge in-state undergrads up to 30 percent more than the statewide tuition rate, by allowing any state university that has $100-million or more in annual research activity to charge it. UCF would qualify under that measure, and FIU will very soon.
Also, lawmakers OK'd a bill (HB 475)that prevents foreign students here on F-1 and M-1 visas from receiving state need-based financial aid - and redirects that aid to eligible Florida residents.
And they embraced legislation to establish the Florida College System of 2- and 4-year institutions, and to create a pilot of three community colleges that transition from bachelor's degree-granting community colleges to "state colleges." St. Petersburg College would be one of the three.
Lastly, not to be ignored: the council unanimously approved this year's renewal of the sales tax holiday on school supplies - a measure expected to pass both chambers before the session is over.