The latest round of discussions between Florida’s Republican Gov. Charlie Crist and representatives of the student bodies of the state’s public universities has taken an interesting turn-Crist has vetoed a tuition increase for the state’s universities, and the students are asking for one.

Last year, a five percent increase in tuition for all of Florida’s universities passed in state legislature but was vetoed by Crist on the grounds that it would place too great a burden on students and their families.  During Tuesday’s summit with student body leaders from Florida’s eleven public universities, roughly half of the students attending raised their hands when asked if they would approve of a tuition hike if they had a role in how the money was spent.  Representatives from the four largest schools in the state system (The University of Florida, Florida State University, The University of South Florida, and the University of Central Florida) are all in favor of such an increase.

Florida has long had tuition rates that are among the lowest in the country.  The annual cost of attendance for an in-state student at UF, for example, is under $14,000 a year.  While some argue that this is an advantage not to be taken lightly, others point out that as budget freezes and cuts become more prevalent, something must give.

Among the budget horror stories discussed Tuesday were tales of classes at the University of South Florida being taught at a nearby mall because there was no class space; biology students at FSU diluting dyes with water to save money; and perhaps most alarmingly, reports from Universities across the state of four year degrees taking longer because required classes are too full to accept all the students who need to take them to graduate, forcing them to spend five years earning a bachelor’s degree.

Crist has changed his views on tuition hikes slightly.  He recently signed legislation allowing three state schools (FSU, USF, and UF) to raise their tuitions by a flat $1,000 a year over the next four years, but asked that the changes not go into effect until next year.  Meanwhile, the Board of Governors, which oversees Florida’s Universities, is attempting to raise tuition with or without legislation allowing them to do so, a move being contested in court.  It would appear that with such an unexpected base of support for a tuition hike (the students themselves), and obvious budget shortages looming on the horizon, that tuition hikes are a near certainty.

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Nick Mildebrath can be reached at playgoodmusic@gmail.com. Please put ‘BNN’ in your subject line.

Sources cited in this article included an AP story that can be seen here and an article in the Tallahassee Democrat that can be viewed here. Information on the annual costs of UF can be seen here.

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