Tuition increases at Florida's public universities are one step closer to reality.
The budget and finance committee of the Florida Board of Governors has just voted to recommend approving tuition increases, as requested, for each of the institutions.
The final decision rests with the full board, which meets this afternoon. While the committee approved the increases across the board, with a 7-2 vote, the full board will consider each request individually.
All but three universities are asking for tuition hikes up to a full 15 percent allowed by law. The University of Florida is asking for a 9 percent increase, the University of South Florida wants an 11 percent increase and Florida Gulf Coast University wants 14 percent.
Tuition increases are under greater scrutiny this year than ever.
The governor has called for the state to become the nation's most affordable for college tuition, the Legislature included no base tuition hikes in this year's budget, and a new state task force in the middle of an effort to review universities' returns on investment.
At the same time, the universities are preparing to absorb a $300 million state budget cut, marking the fifth year in a row they've seen a drop-off of state support.
The schools have raised tuition consistently during the same period, but the increases -- totaling about 15 percent each year for four years straight -- have only made up about 20 percent of that loss.
It means students are paying more, but getting less.
"You can't depend on the political will of the leadership of this state," said board member John Temple. "I mean, look at what the Legislature did to us this year... We've got a one-shot opportunity."
Most of the members -- surprisingly including the new student representative on the board, University of Central Florida student Cortez Whatley -- agreed. Norman Tripp and Thomas Kuntz voted no, echoing Scott's concerns for keeping costs down for Florida families.