Explore other options before raising tuition
Published: Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, March 28, 2012 14:03
College students in Florida are undoubtedly keeping a close eye on legislation being passed at the state level regarding hikes in tuition rates. Legislation that passed a Senate vote earlier this month now awaits approval of Gov. Rick Scott.
The bill would grant the University of Florida and Florida State University the power to raise tuition rates past the 15 percent cap currently in place. Concerning spending within universities, Scott compared the tuition situation to private companies.
“What would you do if you were a private company?” Scott said, according to the Gainesville Sun. “You would outsource things, you’d use more technology, you would make people more productive. … You can’t just raise your prices every year.”
Until all measures like this have been explored to prevent students from shouldering the burden of spiked tuition rates, this bill should not be signed by Scott. There has been no evidence to suggest Florida’s universities have explored options such as alternatives to class size and the issue of overpaid university employees. These are problems that plague higher education, and stringent measures can be enacted to prevent tuition increases.
Over the course of the last four years, tuition rates at five state colleges in Florida have spiked 60 percent, while the other six schools have seen increases of up to 45 percent, according to The Palm Beach Post. The Florida House budget this year contains yet another 8 percent increase in tuition rates.
Federal measures should also be explored to create incentives for students that can aid on the state level. For example, the Lumina Foundation for Education has examined different trial programs across the country, with policies in states like Florida and Pennsylvania that target funding based on how colleges perform rather than their enrollment rates.
According to a CBS News article, states such as Texas offer student incentives where students can receive $1,000 for completing a degree within three credits of the minimum amount required. This type of enticement would encourage students to avoid taking superfluous electives and instill a stronger drive to graduate as soon as possible.
Although Florida’s tuition rates currently stand among the lowest in the nation, the hike in tuition can be avoided by looking at these possibilities. The reality of students having to take out student loans due to decreases in Bright Futures scholarships is prevalent.
Yet, loan forgiveness programs, which are set in place to offer repayment if students agree to stay in Florida and utilize their degree, could not only rectify this but also help the state’s economy.
Ultimately, if tuition-rate hikes cannot be avoided, students will have to acknowledge their payments to universities as investments in their futures. However, all other options should be thoroughly explored prior to the passing of this bill. It is a dangerous notion to enact such legislation and a slippery slope toward endless tuition spikes that affect all Florida universities, not just UF and FSU.