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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

In his new education budget proposal released Thursday, Gov. Charlie Crist suggested that state universities and community colleges get a nearly $5.5 billion chunk of state funds in 2008-2009, but he proposed no tuition increase.

The Florida Legislature has the final say on the proposals, and its session starts March 4.

Administrators from Florida's public universities have consistently clamored for tuition hikes to hire more faculty and advisers - an area they say is in dire straights.

Florida currently ranks almost last in terms of student-teacher ratio nationwide.

"It's clearly something we feel we need," UF spokesman Steve Orlando said of increased tuition. "Given the current budget situation, we need more funding anywhere we can get it."

Orlando said while UF is glad that Crist didn't propose any funding cuts, the funding he did offer wouldn't do much for the university.

Crist's proposed budget calls for $52 million given to all state universities for new student enrollment growth, $23 million for medical schools at Florida International University, University of Central Florida and Florida State University and $56 million for community college enrollment.

UF doesn't need help increasing enrollment, and the other areas don't apply to UF, Orlando said.

"Overall, it's a great idea," he said. "Unfortunately, none of (the proposals) would directly benefit us."

Crist also suggested giving $60 million to the universities to establish Centers of Excellence, which would support various research projects at the universities.

Split between Florida's 11 public universities, even that extra money wouldn't make a huge impact at UF, Orlando said.

For now, UF is looking forward to receiving extra money from previously implemented tuition increases. The state's public universities were granted a 5 percent increase this year that will bring in $9.5 million for the university system this spring.

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Of that, UF will get about $1.4 million.

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