Politics

Frank Brogan: Don't Expect Those Big Tuition Hikes

By: Jim Turner | Posted: June 12, 2012 3:55 AM
Frank Brogan

State University System Chancellor Frank Brogan | Credit: floridaenvironments.com

Don’t expect a state university seeking the maximum 15 percent tuition hike to get the full request, State University System Chancellor Frank Brogan said Monday.

Brogan said a decision last week by the University of Florida’s board of trustees not to seek the maximum increase should be considered a “shot heard around the world ” -- or at least across the academic world of Florida -- that many people don’t have the appetite for another year of hikes hitting 15 percent.

And next week when the state Board of Governors meets to review the tuition hike requests from each of the state’s universities, Brogan predicts a number of school officials may leave Orlando needing to recalculate their fiscal plans for the 2012-2013 academic year.

“That clearly was a significant statement, not just at the University of Florida, but that is going to have some kind of impact on the rest of the system,” Brogan said Monday, at the Capitol for Gov. Rick Scott’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on Education.

“I don’t see the board approving all 15 percent increases,” he said.

Scott’s task force is expected to review many of the higher education proposals that legislators approved in the 2012 regular session before offering their suggestions to Scott in October.

Scott vetoed the legislative “pre-eminence” proposal because the bill would have allowed Florida State University and the University of Florida to seek unlimited tuition hikes as a means to bolster revenue for science and technology programs.

“I think the governor was pretty clear, at least he was to me, that he doesn’t like tuition increases,” Brogan said. “But he was more concerned that while we were working to have a system in place, I don't believe his confidence was high enough that we could assure from both the state and institution levels on the return of investment.”

Brogan added that the model of simply increasing taxes year after year to close gaps in revenue doesn't appear to be a sustainable model.

"Even though we have the 45th lowest undergrad (tuition) in the United States, is it sustainable to simply continue to make up (the difference) on the backs of students that we're not getting at this point in our history via the recession through the legislative process?" Brogan said. "If universities are walking into next week's meeting in Orlando simply expecting to get a 15 percent differential increase, they need to think again. And I think they are."

Universities are allowed to seek tuition increases that exceed the base set annually by the Legislature. The combined total can’t exceed 15 percent.

With each school expected to gun for the maximum, no base rate was set this year by the Legislature, which also put 15 percent hikes into the revenue portion of the state budget.

To balance the budget, legislators used $300 million from university reserves.

Trustees for Florida State University and University of Central Florida have approved 15 percent tuition increases to offset operational costs.

But on Friday, Machen reduced his tuition increase request from 15 percent to 9 percent. The move will require university leaders to either cut or find another source to patch a $5 million hole the decrease will put in the budget at the Gainesville campus.

Florida A&M University is seeking a 15 percent tuition increase.

The trustees for Florida’s other state universities are meeting this week to set proposed tuition increases for the 2012-2013 academic year.

Brogan said each school will have to build its case for the proposal increase before the Board of Governors approves the requests.

“What I know they’re going to do is to carefully look at each university's request, their work plan, the metric associated, their vision of where they are and what they want to be, and then they will weigh the request,” Brogan said



Reach Jim Turner at jturner@sunshinestatenews.com or at (772) 215-9889.

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