In a move that likely surprised no one, the state Board of Governors on Thursday approved 7 percent tuition differential requests at each of Florida's 11 public universities. With the 8 percent hike approved by the Legislature earlier this year, it brings next year's total tuition increase to 15 percent — the most allowed by state law.
The board, which oversees the state university system, gave the final rubber stamp at the end of its two-day meeting at the University of South Florida. Tico Perez, chairman of the board's budget committee, called the move "a necessary evil."
"The goal is to provide the best education possible," he said.
More than ever, the university system is looking to tuition increases as a way to bolster budget shortfalls, particularly as state funding has declined steadily the past several years. Even with the new increase, Florida remains 48th out of 50 states in terms of tuition cost.
Nevertheless, it's not an easy sell.
Michael Long, the board's student representative, voted against differential requests for Florida Gulf Coast University and the University of North Florida as a show of solidarity to their student body presidents, who opposed the hikes.
While Long, himself, reluctantly supported the tuition increases, the 19-year-old student at New College stressed the importance of financial aid at the same time. And he said he hoped the increases would soon lead to more teachers on campus and better education overall. University leaders continually point to Florida's high student-faculty ratios as a place that needs improvement.
"We're paying more but not necessarily receiving more next year," he said.