Debate Over College Tuition at Public Universties Heats Up
The Board's vote to hike tuition 5% has now raised the political stakes over education. Just two weeks ago Governor Charlie Crist signed a bill that would allow three state universities, including the Unversity of Florida, to raise their tuition up to 40% over the course of the next few years. But today Crist is fuming over the feud that has ensued between the Board and the legislature, which is now headed to court.
Crist briefly expressed his feelings over the embroiling suit today,"...I should say I'm disappointed because I don't think they need to join the litigation and utilize taxpayer dollars for that purpose. It was already being funded privately. I think it would be better used to spend towardâ€¦ higher ed."
Florida schools, like the University of Florida, say they need the money. Director of Communications, Steve Orlando exlained that the university has been imploring lawmakers for money for years, "It has been for years now in trying to get that tuition increase for that very reason so that we can provide a better level of education."
And with UF's tuition ranked among the lowest in the country --a little over $3200 a year, UF student Laura Henderson agrees with the hike, "We are in the lower end so I think increasing tuition is good if it's going toward the right thing like hiring tenured professors."
Some say that the amendment that created the Board of Governors also intended for them to oversee the state's public universities. But lawmakers say that only the legislature can be trusted to limit tuition hikes. Now as the legal battle ensues it is the fate of the universities that is caught in the political crossfire.
But the fallout concerns students over the accessibility to higher education as undergraduate student, Ato Thomlinson, "For me, I had to take a break to work and save up enough money to come to school in the first place, so if you hike tuition I'm going to take a longer break."
As the politics over public education plays out in tallahassee the universities sit on the sidelines. Orlanso added that UF is "standing and waiting to see what happens this needs to play out it's plays out and obviously it's in all of our best interest to have this resolved."
If the board's increase goes through it will go into effect in the Spring of 2008.
By Stacey Samuel, WCJB TV20 News
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