As the State of Florida wrestles with ways to fund higher education in the ongoing age of austerity, a blue ribbon task force appointed by Gov. Rick Scott has moved closer to issuing a range of proposals that could change how the state’s universities are funded and what students pay to attend them, the Gainesville Sun reported.
Members of Florida’s higher education task force recently discussed doing away with the state’s 15% annual cap on tuition and replacing it with a market based model. Through 2007-2008 and 2009-2010 academic years tuition at Florida’s then-11 active universities increased 22%, for a total of $202.2 million, reported the Fort Meyers News-Press.
However, state support fell 19%, total $443.3 million, during that same period resulting in a net loss of $241.1 million. Despite past increases, Florida‘s tuition rates remain amongst the lowest in the country. The low tuition has made it difficult for some schools in the Sunshine State to retain top professors, reported The Polk County Ledger.
For universities to have the authority to raise their tuition the state Legislature would have to give up its tuition-setting authority. According to WTSP 10, among the ideas being considered by the task force are allowing universities to charge varying tuition rates based upon where a student is in his or her academic career, freshman would pay less than seniors, or allowing schools to charge more for technical degrees that have a good chance of landing a high paying job, like engineering, and less for critically needed degrees, like nursing.
The panel is expected to make its final recommendations on Oct. 30.
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