Scott stands firm opposing tuition hike
Gov. Rick Scott's office reiterated his opposition to a tuition increase this week, potentially throwing a wrench into a University of South Florida plan that slightly increases rates at its campuses.
“The Governor does not support any tuition increase,” press secretary Jackie Schutz said in an email to the Tribune on Thursday. “We are reviewing the budget.”
The statement comes at the same time that work groups of the USF Board of Trustees will consider a proposal based on the 3 percent increase approved by the Legislature but without any of the optional added hikes the university could impose.
USF proposes setting in-state tuition and fees for 2013-14 at $6,491 on the Tampa campus, an increase of 2.5 percent from last year's $6,334. The bill would rise to $5,925 at the St. Petersburg campus, an increase of 3.7 percent from last year's $5,716, and $5,632 at Sarasota-Manatee, an increase of 1.9 percent from last year's $5,530.
Scott has line-item veto power over the $74.5 billion state budget. He is required to take action on the budget by Friday.
USF will publicly address the tuition proposal when its trustees work groups meet Thursday. A spokeswoman said this week the plan depends on the budget as is and would have to be re-evaluated if portions are vetoed.
If the document stands, it will reverse a trend of double-digit tuition increases imposed as the university has received fewer and fewer dollars from Tallahassee.
This year, with Florida's economy purring and record revenue in hand, lawmakers plowed hundreds of millions into higher education as part of the state budget passed this month.
They gave back the $300 million the universities had to pull from reserves last year, when budget writers scrambled to plug billions in shortfalls across the state spending plan. And the budget provides $151 million in new university funding, to be doled out based on performance metrics.
That led USF to leave unchanged what is known as the tuition differential, which it can boost by as much as 15 percent. Last year, with no tuition hike passed by the Legislature, USF boosted the differential by 11 percent. The previous year, it sought a 7 percent increase in the differential on top of 8 percent passed by the Legislature.
On Thursday, in addition to the undergraduate in-state rates, Provost Ralph Wilcox will present the following proposals to increase tuition and fees:
Nonresident undergraduates, $17,406, up from $16,256, a 7.1 percent hike;
Resident graduates, $10,917, up from $10,414, a 4.8 percent hike;
And nonresident graduates, $21,615, up from $20,603, a 4.9 percent hike.
Those figures apply to the Tampa campus. The numbers for St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee are similar. Tuition and fees are higher for those in business, engineering and specialties such as medical fields.
Tuition and fees are just a portion of the cost of college, about 31 percent under USF's proposal.
Throw in housing and meals, books and supplies and personal expenses, and the university puts the “sticker price” for a full-time resident undergraduate not living at home at $20,942 for next year.