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Florida should continue – ,to raise college tuition

Student tuition in Florida increased by as much as’15 percent last year, and it’s a trend that may continue for several years to come. While it may inconvenience some students, raising tuition is a necessity and will only’help USF.

Florida officials plan to increase tuition by 15 percent every year until it reaches’the national average,’according to The Associated Press. The state’s average tuition is about $3,000 a year, while the national average is about $7,020 for 2009-10,’according to the College Board.

Cash-strapped Florida’universities are turning to students for funding because they cannot rely on the state government facing similar financial hardships. In budget years 2007-08 and 2008-09, the state cut’$285 million from the state university system, according to the St. Petersburg Times.

Even if the economy picks up and the state can afford to start spending more on education, it will most likely be a while before funding reaches the level it was before the cuts.

Florida students have little’to complain about paying tuition that is less than half of the national average. It’s sensible for universities to take advantage of students who have been getting off comparatively easy.

Even after last year’s’15-percent hike, Florida ranked second to last in undergraduate tuition costs, above Wyoming and below Louisiana.

A steep rise in tuition every year may be hard for some students to handle, but increased funding will help USF and eventually students. Rather than having to cut programs on a reduced’budget, the University would be able to expand spending and some jobs.

USF would have more money to put toward student financial aid and would be able to admit more students. Before the tuition hike last year, some faculty suggested cutting enrollment by 27 percent to make up for a lack of state funding, USF Provost Ralph Wilcox said to The Oracle in May 2009.

Few can argue that the University does not need the money from higher tuition considering its budget has shrunk about $17.7 million from the 2007-08 fiscal year to’2009-10, excluding federal stimulus funds.

Though annual tuition increases might make college less affordable for some, in the long run its in the best interests of USF, the state and students.