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Politics

To Raise or Not to Raise Tuition: Now That's a Question

March 26, 2013 - 7:00pm

A split is developing between Republican leaders in the Florida House and Senate over university tuition next year.

The House wants to raise tuition 6 percent. The Senate is proposing no tuition increase.

House leaders argue Floridas tuition rates are below the national average and an increase would help universities keep pace with other schools around the country.

The average cost of tuition in Florida is about $6,200. Nationwide, its $8,600.

Gov. Rick Scott, meanwhile, is also making it clear that he opposes tuition increases. He compares them to tax hikes.

This is a tax," Scott said. "Its a tax on students. Its a tax on families so we cant be raising the cost to get a higher education in this state. What weve got to focus on is whats it cost for a degree? When they walk out of school, do these students have jobs or are they going on to higher ed? How much money do they make when they leave? Thats what we all focused on when we were getting out of school.

Democrat Rep. Mark Pafford doesn't agree with Scott on many issues, but on tuition increases, both are in sync.

Pafford says the economy has dealt a severe blow to Florida students and families in recent years and theres no reason to make it worse at this time.

Pafford, of West Palm Beach, says, I dont think theres any reason to hit students and families harder. Especially over the last several years where the economy has really been hit hard, families have been hit hard, the middle class has been hit hard. A higher education is supposed to be one of those tools to help people achieve more in life and making it more difficult to achieve, to get there, doesnt make sense for Florida.

Florida has raised university tuition rates for 17 straight years.

Dave Heller is a Tallahassee freelance reporter/videographer.

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