What To Do About The Rising Cost Of College Tuition
Throughout the 2013 legislative session, we've been posing questions to Tallahassee lawmakers that were raised at a WLRN-Miami Herald News Town Hall last February.
Among the topics is the rising cost of higher education in Florida.
Thirty-year-old Alberto Jordat is about to graduate from Florida Atlantic University with a dual major in journalism and multimedia studies. He's concerned about the how younger students will pay for college in the future. He asks:
"I'm a college student who keeps seeing astronomical increases (in the cost of) higher education being passed along each year, while public funding for education keeps decreasing, including money available for financial aid. What can be done to ensure that Florida provides low-cost higher education to its students?"
But Republican State Representative Bill Hager takes issue with Jordat's use of the term "astronomical increases" to describe tuition costs at Florida's public colleges and universities.
"Our tuition ranks 41st (in terms of relative cost) in the United States," says Hager. "This is really a grand slam for our students and for our state. Anybody that hustles, anybody who's willing to work and sacrifice, can get a bachelor's degree and be in good financial stead when they finish."
In fact this week, Florida's full house and Senate passed a state budget proposal which includes raising tuition at public universities by 3 percent.
Hager says the increase is necessary to ensure that Florida's universities remain competitive with schools in other states.
House and Senate budget leaders also agreed to raise the amount of money that students receive through Florida's Bright Futures scholarship program.
What's still unclear however is whether Gov. Rick Scott will approve even a 3 percent tuition hike. In recent months, the governor has stated that he opposes any increase in state tuition, calling tuition hikes a "tax on students" that hurts Florida families.