Gov. Jeb Bush has the right intentions to try and solve the problem of a slight dip in black enrollment at Florida’s universities, but he is going about things the wrong way.
On Wednesday, he made it known that he would like to add money to the state budget – $52.4 million, to be exact – that would go toward scholarships for minorities to ease the burden of paying for tuition.
Here’s a thought: Wouldn’t lowering tuition altogether take away the need to provide relief to these worthy students who are strapped for cash? The money that the state government would be doling out to these students for scholarships and financial aid is money that should be put into reducing the cost of tuition instead.
State Sen. Les Miller, D-Tampa, state Senate Minority leader and the first black student body president at USF, seemed to follow this logic when he responded to Bush’s request.
“Don’t ply us with token dollars when double-digit tuition hikes are making it harder and harder for lower income kids and their families to afford higher education,” Miller said. “If the governor and other state officials are truly concerned about boosting the enrollment of blacks and other minorities, we urge them to match the rhetoric with serious action.”
Bush has taken some steps toward easing the cost of tuition for college students for students last June when he vetoed a bill that would penalize those students who had earned over 120 credit hours but were still in the process of taking classes, especially because it would hurt community college students.
“These students are seeking a higher education and additional skills in order to enhance their contributions to society,” Bush wrote in the veto. “Requiring these students to pay an excess credit-hours surcharge may increase their dropout rate. I am not willing to take this risk and potentially jeopardize the dreams of thousands of individuals seeking a higher education through our community college system.”
Through actions such as these, Bush has demonstrated his passion for Florida’s students to succeed. His actions are a step in the right direction but ultimately fall short of a solution that is more obvious and easier to implement: Decrease tuition over all.
It is understandable that Bush wants students to work toward a higher education and does not want to make attaining a college degree so easy that the degree will have no value – yet proposing additional scholarships and financial aid seems like a way of playing ring around the rosy with the real solution to the problem.