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Thursday, June 13, 2024

State Senate committee approves tuition-increase bill

As UF students flooded the Florida Capitol to meet with legislators, a state Senate committee passed a bill that would allow UF to charge higher tuition as early as this fall semester.

The Senate Higher Education committee unanimously passed a measure on Thursday that would allow Florida universities to charge higher tuition if they meet 11 of 14 requirements.

UF President Bernie Machen has been pushing the issue of higher tuition as a way for UF to continue to succeed in the global arena.

"Any significant increase in tuition will certainly have a detrimental effect to students," said Student Body President Anthony Reynolds. "The legislature and those who are making these decisions should really keep this in mind."

At a Board of Governors meeting in December, Machen stressed that UF is different from the other 10 schools in the state university system and should be treated accordingly.

Although he said he is averse to placing undue financial burden on students, UF needs to look for more funding that doesn't come from the state. Raising tuition is one way to do that.

If the bill passes, Machen wrote in an email, it would allow UF to compete at national and international levels.

An amendment to SB1752 contains the 14 criteria for allowing universities to raise tuition. UF and FSU are expected to be eligible to pursue the increases.

Some of the criteria include an average weighted GPA of 3.8 or higher, a top 50 ranking on at least two well-known and respected national public university rankings, a freshman retention rate of 90 percent or higher, total annual research expenditures of $200 million or more and an endowment of $400 million or more.

Students with Florida Prepaid college plans would be exempt from the tuition increase.

The bill must still be approved by UF's Board of Trustees, then passed to the Board of Governors, the highest governing body of the state university system.

Higher tuition was one of the concerns UF students voiced in the Capitol today, House Speaker Dean Cannon said. Students and administrators visited Tallahassee on Thursday for Florida Blue Key's Gator Day — a day for legislative advocacy.

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They also talked about the role Florida universities can play in the state's economy.

As a UF alumnus and former Student Body president, Cannon said he was glad to see students in the Capitol talking to their elected representatives about issues they believe in.

UF's recent drop in national rankings signals a need for these concerns to be addressed, he said.

"Excellence has to be constantly pursued, and it doesn't just happen by accident."

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