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Students will see tuition hikes, less help from Florida budget

TALLAHASSEE — College students can expect bigger tuition bills next year — and possibly less help to pay for them.

College and university tuitions will rise by at least 8 percent just as the state's most popular scholarship program shrinks by a fifth under a deal brokered Thursday night between the House and Senate lawmakers who oversee higher education.

Universities are expected to ask for an additional 7 percent tuition increase from the state Board of Governors.

Bright Futures, the popular lottery-funded scholarship program, will decrease its awards by 20 percent. Those cuts would vary depending on the type of award and the institution. The average award last year at four-year public state universities was $2,548, meaning that student would lose close to $500 next year.

New qualifications for the awards — higher SAT scores and new community service requirements— would not go into effect until the 2013-14 school year.

Not counting tuition increases, state spending on both colleges and universities dips due to the loss of nearly $200 million in federal stimulus funds.

This week's deal, however, looked better than what colleges and universities had originally planned for under earlier budget proposals.

University of Central Florida, for instance, thought it might lose as much as $30 million, said Daniel Holsenbeck, vice president of university relations. He said officials had not yet calculated the loss under the new proposal but knew that it would be much smaller.

"You've got the loss of the stimulus and then you've got the base budget cuts," he said. "You add it all up, and it's pretty hard. We just hope this is the last year."

The House and Senate also agreed to keep H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center funded at $9.6 million for its doctor training program. The Senate had originally cut that amount to $5.4 million.

Another provision left out of the final deal: An earlier Senate proposal to eliminate the Board of Governors foundation, which provides a large portion of Chancellor Frank Brogan's salary and benefits.

House and Senate budget leaders will take up spending on construction projects at universities and colleges.

Jodie Tillman can be reached at jtillman@sptimes.com or (850) 933-1321.

Students will see tuition hikes, less help from Florida budget 04/29/11 [Last modified: Friday, April 29, 2011 8:28pm]
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