Make us your home page

The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

House higher ed chairwoman releases spending plan that sets higher tuition, Bright Futures standards



The House chairwoman overseeing the higher education budget released a draft spending plan today that raises university tuition another year and makes qualifying for Bright Futures scholarships a little harder to help offset the loss of $150 million in federal stimulus money.

“This is a dose of reality,” O’Toole told her colleagues on the House subcommittee on higher education appropriations.

All told, the proposed $5.7 billion spending plan cuts not only universities but also public colleges; private colleges; district workforce boards and vocational rehabilitation and blind services.

But O’Toole’s draft contained fewer cuts than Gov. Rick Scott’s proposed higher education budget. For instance, she proposes continuing more than $9 million in educational funding to Moffitt Cancer Center, money that Scott eliminated.

Under O’Toole’s plan:
• The legislature would raise tuition 5 percent, leaving universities the likely option of raising it another 10 percent.
• Students would have to meet higher standards to qualify for Bright Futures: an SAT score of 1300 instead of 1280 for the highest tier, plus work 100 community service hours versus the current 75. Homeschoolers would also have to raise their SAT scores from 1070 to 1220 and do 75 hours of community service to qualify as Medallion Scholars.
• Colleges and universities could use no more than $200,000 in state money for presidents’ salaries. Currently, there is a $225,000 cap.
• Residents who enroll in adult education courses would now owe $90 annual tuition. Currently, they pay nothing.

Senators who oversee higher education indicated this week they, too, would be open to raising student tuition to help offset the budget cuts.

Florida tuition and fees went up a total of 15.6 percent between fiscal year 2009 and 2010, the second highest increase in the country. Even so, Florida students pay the third lowest tuition and fees package in the country, according to the Board of Governors.

[Last modified: Wednesday, March 16, 2011 3:55pm]


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours