Budget cuts and possible tuition hikes getting you down? Try heading south of the border.
As the Florida Legislature prepares to consider a bill this spring that would raise the cost of tuition by as much as 15 percent in Florida's 11 public universities, 128 of Mexico's public universities have pledged to reduce education fees and increase the number of scholarships in an effort to stop students from dropping out or postponing graduation, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education News Blog.
During the next academic year, Mexico will spend $180 million to increase the number of federal scholarships from 234,000 to 310,000, said Rodolfo Tuirán, Mexico's under secretary for higher education, according to the blog.
The blog reported that while tuition at Mexican public universities is "usually free or very low, lab fees and other expenses can run in the hundreds or even thousands of dollars."
However, a similar infusion of federal financial aid may not be necessary in Florida.
UF spokeswoman Janine Sikes said she is not aware of a significant number of UF students having to drop out due to the dismal state of the economy because many are covered by the Bright Futures Scholarship Program.
According to the Florida Board of Governors' Web site, during the 2006 to 2007 fiscal year there were 26,105 Bright Futures scholars at UF.
Additionally, 635 federal scholarships totaling about $1.3 million were awarded to UF students, more than any other public school in the state, according to the site. Across Florida, a total of 1,520 federal scholarships summing up to about $3.6 million were awarded to public school students.
The Web site also shows that the overall number and amount of scholarships awarded to Florida public school students has been steadily increasing.
In 2001, a total of 148,704 scholarships totaling about $274 million were awarded. In 2007, 187,595 scholarships were awarded totaling $443 million.
It is uncertain whether the economic stimulus package President Barack Obama signed, which could infuse Florida with $12 billion over the next three years, will affect financial aid. Sikes said UF has proposed using the possible funds for construction projects on campus.