Tuition could rise, students to lobby
Published: Thursday, January 26, 2012
Updated: Thursday, January 26, 2012 03:01
A proposed Florida House budget released Tuesday could have the state reaching deeper into students' pockets next year.
In addition to suggesting that the state cut back on higher education funding by 6.2 percent and cut Bright Futures by 11 percent, the budget proposes an 8 percent base tuition increase.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, State University System president Frank Brogan said most schools will likely raise their tuition by another 7 percent to make up for the cuts, maximizing the allowed 15 percent per year tuition increase.
Yet, while Florida remains the fifth-most affordable in the nation for in-state tuition, according to flblog.org, students will face this raise after tuition was already increased by 15 percent and Bright Futures cut by 20 percent last year.
From 2007 to 2010, funding for state universities has decreased by 24 percent. Yet, since 2007, tuition has increased by more than 50 percent to help fill the void.
"That is terribly concerning," said Michael Long, Florida Student Association chairman. "We're the 45th lowest tuition, which to me is a great thing. To the legislature, it's an opportunity for mediocracy. I see our standing as a tremendous asset and selling point to the state. It's why people stay in Florida to go to school. However, it's being used as leverage meant for increasing tuitions. It's a race to mediocracy."
Long and approximately 400 other students across the state — 55 from USF — will demonstrate in "Rally in Tally," an annual student march on the state capital, today to voice their concerns with rising tuition costs.
Toby Thomson, a junior majoring in biology and associate director of Governmental Affairs for Student Government, said he hopes students' voices will be heard by legislators.
"There, we can have an impact on legislators and put our message across," he said. "Hopefully, at USF, our budget will be kept the same, as in no more cuts, and if there are cuts, they're not as much as previous years."
Thomson said Ralliers will have opportunities to meet one-on-one with state Reps. Rick Kriseman, Betty Reed, Rachel Burgin, Will W. Weatherford, Jeffrey Brandes and Kelli Stargel.
In a December interview with The Oracle, USF Provost Ralph Wilcox said administrators hoped to keep tuition costs affordable.
"For every dollar less in budget reductions that we realize, it's a dollar less we have to raise in
revenues somewhere else, whether through student tuition or in other ways," he said. "President (Judy) Genshaft and the rest of the leadership is very concerned over the prospect of having to raise tuition and fees in the year to come. That having been said, students have certain quality expectations of the University of South Florida — quality that we're not about to compromise on."
After going through the House of Representatives, the budget will have to pass through the Senate and the governor. In the meantime, students are still anxious.
"How are we going to afford to continue to go to school?" Long said. "The state needs to maintain higher education as a priority, and it's slipping out of our grip."