Controversial changes for universities up for vote in 2017


Florida colleges may soon be facing restructuring with Gov. Rick Scott’s new education agenda titled, “Finish in Four, Save More,” as well as multiple bills being considered in the 2017 Florida legislative session. Concealed carry on campuses and at airports, stripping tuition to undocumented students and tax exemptions all will soon be voted on.

Scott’s new plan would include the Bright Future scholarships covering summer courses as well as the spring and fall semesters, freezing all fees at state colleges and universities as well as eliminating sales tax on mandatory textbooks.

He also wishes to cap tuition at state colleges and limit tuition increases at universities.

Scott said his sudden focus on higher education is due to the drastic increase in tuition statewide.

"At the junior college I went to, the first year it was $200, all-in, a semester," Scott said. "And the university, which was expensive, was $255."

In-state university students now pay approximately $200 per credit hour.

Scott stated the textbook tax exemption would save students $48 million and said the new agenda would help students graduate in four years.

The Florida legislature also may address Senate Bill 0082, which if passed would repeal in-state college tuition for undocumented students as well as House Bill 6005, which would permit the more than 1.67 million concealed-weapons license holders living in the state to carry a concealed weapon on college campuses. A similar bill allowing concealed weapons for permit holders in airport terminals is also being considered.

The bills will be evaluated during the annual 60-day session, which begins on Mar. 7, and all committee meetings will be concluded prior to beginning of the legislative session.