Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford: "Our students and our parents are spending as much money on a cell phone every year as they do in paying for tuition for their child or for themselves to go to a university in Florida. That system long-term can’t work.”
Tallahassee, Florida - Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford makes a surprising statement in support of raising university tuition rates next year.
Weatherford says the average college student in Florida pays as much for a cell phone every year as for tuition.
Weatherford held up a smartphone at the Board of Governors meeting Thursday to emphasize that tuition in Florida is very low. He said Florida ranks 48th in the nation on the cost of tuition.
Weatherford supports raising tuition six percent next year. That's the position of the Florida House right now in its proposed budget. The Senate is proposing no increase.
Speaker Weatherford says a university system that charges the same or less for tuition as cell phone service cannot sustain itself.
"We think to just take tuition off the table and ignore the fact that we're ranked so low, and ignore the fact that our students are spending more on cell phones to some extent than they are on tuition is not right. Our students and our parents are spending as much money on a cell phone every year as they do in paying for tuition for their child or for themselves to go to a university in Florida. That system long-term can't work."
The average cost of tuition in Florida is about $6,200.
Florida has raised tuition for 17 consecutive years and over the last several years, it has increased 15 percent a year.
Weatherford says that's why the House is not pushing for a double-digit tuition hike.
He calls six percent a responsible number but concedes the House is willing to negotiate with the Senate and Gov. Rick Scott, who opposes higher tuition.