After the Florida House proposed hiking base tuition 8 percent and Gov. Rick Scott urged no tuition hike at all, the Florida Senate is meeting in the middle, recommending an increase tuition of 3 percent for workforce education and state colleges. The committee did not put forth a base tuition increase for state universities, instead assuming they will increase differential tution by 15 percent.
The feeling is that tuition certainly needs to go up, said Sen. Evelyn Lynn, chair of the Higher Education appropriations subcommittee, "But being cognizant of the Governor's desires as well, this is a starting point."
At the same time, the committee recommended cutting 400 million in nonrecurring general revenue funds to the State University System, or by about 25 percent. Lynn said that's because universities still have a great deal of money left in their operating funds.
The Florida College System would see a slight increase in state funds under the Senate proposal, about 1.1 percent. Factoring in the three percent base tuition hike, that's a 2 percent revenue increase, Lynn said.
University presidents have repeatedly implored lawmakers to raise tuition, as Florida's schools are now among the cheapest in the country. But Florida College presidents feel differently, urging legislators not to increase prices for students who often struggle to pay as it is.
Under a program known as tuition differential, universities can add to whatever tuition hike is eventually signed into the budget, so long as it does not exceed 15 percent.
Last year, for instance, the Legislature approved an 8 percent tuition hike, and universities followed suit with another 7 percent.