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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Uncertainty about tuition increases in Florida could soon be alleviated if the Legislature approves a bill linking tuition hikes to inflation.

If it were approved, the bill would allow Florida's 28 community colleges and public universities to automatically increase tuition with the inflation rate each year beginning fall 2008.

Members of the state House of Representatives and Senate will vote on the bill Friday at the end of their 10-day special session to balance the budget.

In addition, Legislators will vote on whether to approve a 5 percent statewide tuition increase, which would be about ,55 more per student. If passed, the increase would be implemented in the spring.

They will also decide whether to adopt a technology fee of up to 5 percent of tuition per credit hour. The fee would not be included in tuition and would not be covered by Bright Futures.

The inflation rate is a continuing rise in price levels based on the amount of money versus the amount of goods in the nation's market.

It is calculated by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Increasing tuition rates with inflation could actually slow the rate of increases, according to a report in The Miami Herald.

If tuition rates were linked to inflation starting 20 years ago, students would pay about 77 percent more today than they did back then.

Meanwhile, the actual increases approved by the Legislature in that time are about 214 percent, according to the report.

Linking tuition increases to inflation would serve to end battles over what the Legislature's hikes should be each semester, according to the report.

Even so, other tuition battles rage on.

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The Florida Board of Governors, the State University System's highest governing body, continues to argue that it alone has the power to set tuition rates, said Bill Edmonds, the board's spokesman.

The board announced its own 5 percent increase at a meeting in September without the Legislature's permission.

That increase is scheduled to take effect in the spring.

In July, the board joined a lawsuit with former Sen. Bob Graham to fight for its tuition-setting authority.

A judge will most likely rule on the lawsuit by the end of the year, Edmonds said.

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