Gov. Scott's higher education panel weighs tuition increases

9:43 AM, Oct 15, 2012   |    comments
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TALLAHASSEE, FL - A higher education task force appointed by Gov. Rick Scott moved a step closer Friday to issuing a range of proposals that could help change how Florida universities are funded and what they charge students to attend.

Members of Blue Ribbon Task Force on State Higher Education discussed scrapping an existing 15 percent annual cap on tuition increases and replacing it with a model based on market rates and accountability measures.

State Rep. Bill Proctor, a member of the task force, and others agreed market tuition could be beneficial for Florida's universities and still within students' means.

"Not many schools are going to price themselves out of existence," he said.

Scott vetoed legislation in April that would have let Florida and Florida State exceed the 15 percent cap, saying he wanted a more detailed plan to make sure students get a return on their investment.

Florida universities have among the lowest tuition in the nation, though it has increased in recent years as state funding has declined. In order for university board of trustees to go beyond the cap, the Legislature would need to give up its tuition-setting authority. A pending Florida Supreme Court case, however, argues that a constitutional amendment that created the Board of Governors, which oversees the state universities, also gives that panel tuition-setting control.

The task force also considered ideas including setting lower tuition rates for degrees in fields where Florida needs more workers, as a means of encouraging students to enter those fields. The final recommendations will be sent to the governor by Oct. 30.

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