Legislature not deciding tuition hikes

If tuition rises at USF next semester, it won’t be because of the Florida Legislature, which came to an agreement Wednesday to not raise tuition for any of Florida’s 11 state universities.

According to the Associated Press, education has proven to be a holdup in coming to a consensus between the Florida House of Representatives and the Senate’s proposed budgets.

But tuition can still rise. The University can still pursue an increase in differential tuition, up to 15 percent, if it’s request is approved by the Florida Board of Governors.

Michael Hoad, University spokesman, said the Legislature’s decision is not necessarily a good thing for the University.

“The position that we’ve always taken is the same position, actually, that (USF student body President) Matt Diaz takes, which is that tuition in Florida is low,” he said. “But it’s a pity that we keep raising tuition and then do an equivalent budget cut. What we want is tuition increases so tuition increases can go to better quality. And so, in the face of these budget cuts, tuition just becomes a small piece of the budget, which will end up being lower anyway.”

Two USF-centric issues are still unresolved, Hoad said.

“What’s unresolved are the two special issues that USF has, based on the Senate budget, and apparently there was no action in the House on those two issues,” he said. “If Polytechnic goes independent immediately, then USF needs money to absorb the cost of the staff and (Sen.) Jim Norman (R-Tampa) had put in for $10 million. That’s not taken up. The pharmacy, which was zero-funded by the Senate and (Norman) put in for $3 million, and that’s not been taken up.”

Hoad said he doesn’t know if those issues will be addressed when the final budget is complete.

“We just have to watch it very closely tomorrow and let people know that (USF’s role in Polytechnic’s independence and College of Pharmacy funding) are very important to USF,” he said. “There’s no predicting what lawmakers are going to do.”

An agreement on next year’s state budget must be finalized by the Legislature early next week in order to avoid delaying the legislative session, the AP reported. Florida law requires a 72-hour window following finalization of the state budget before it can be voted on.