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Editorial: Tuition increase seems to be only solution for universities

It’s about time, Florida.

Finally, after much debate on budget cuts and the cost of tuition, Gov. Charlie Crist told the Board of Governors on Thursday that he will support a plan to let the state universities raise tuition up to 15 percent a year.

The proposal, which would pass more of the burden of funding onto university students, is still in its draft stages and has yet to be approved by lawmakers. Crist’s announcement, however, demonstrates a realization that the State University System is in dire need of money.

Universities have been rallying for tuition increases since the announcement of budget cuts, but were met with opposition each time.

Recipients of Bright Futures Scholarships have a lot to lose from such increases. The Florida Lottery and the state’s general coffers are big providers of Bright Futures, but with no funds to spare, an increase in tuition would not equal an increase in scholarship money, leaving students to cough up the difference. To make matters worse, more students are receiving Bright Futures money each year, while the state has barely kept pace.

Unfortunately, these students, just like all those who don’t have the advantage of a scholarship, must come to understand that someone has to pay for their education.

Florida already has one the best deals in education with tuition ranging from $3,400 to $4,000, according to the St. Petersburg Times. The plan would allow a 15 percent increase, but no more than a total of 40 percent in a period of three years.

However, while administrators are practically greeting the increase with a welcoming committee, they must keep in mind that the burden should never solely lay on students — and so should lawmakers.

Also, though it is understandable that raising tuition is a necessary measure to guarantee a quality education for Florida students, lawmakers must keep in mind that the state of the economy should not be used as a scapegoat for their own misadministration of money — including crippling budget cuts to universities.

Nevertheless, the best way to stop the mass exodus of talented professors from Florida’s schools is to pay them better and the money has to come from somewhere. Lawmakers and university administrators are well aware that increasing tuition may make higher education less accessible. Despite the dismay of students, however, it seems to be the best solution to the state’s budgetary ills.