Tuition at Florida's state universities will rise 15 percent this coming academic year.
The Board of Governors approved a 7 percent increase during a meeting Friday in Orlando at the University of Central Florida. Earlier the Florida Legislature approved an 8 percent increase. The legislature determines base tuition rates, while state universities may request additional tuition fees, which the Board of Governors approves. The Board of Governors is the constitutional body overseeing Florida's 11 state universities.
The 15 percent increase is the highest allowable under state law, but even with the increase, tuition at Florida's state universities will remain a deal. Tuition for Florida residents at state universities averaged $4,382 during the 2009-2010 academic year, compared with the national average of $7,020. Board members weighed the economic challenges facing families today against the financial needs of universities.
"We're using the money not to move the ships forward but just to keep the ships afloat," Dean Colson said. "I know we need this money, and I know we're under-priced."
But Norman Tripp voted against any increase, reasoning inflation in higher education has outpaced that "of the rest of the world," he said.
"I don't think there has been an honest conversation that would make me feel better that I could defend to parents and children who are going to have to pay this tuition," he said. "I feel like I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't."
Ava Parker, chairwoman of the board, acknowledged families already are feeling stretched, and she asked for a workshop focused on financial aid. The board decided to consider additional fees, also authorized by the legislature, at a later time.
In other business the board heard from state Rep. Richard L. Steinberg, who proposed a measure requiring that minorities be included among interviews for athletic positions such as coach or athletic director. The measure is modeled after an NFL rule requiring the same thing. Higher education administrators in Oregon adopted a similar measure, and he predicted eventually the NCAA could adopt such a measure.
Statistics show the measure has helped improve diversity in the NFL, he said. But Charles Edwards expressed concern about the board encroaching on universities' hiring procedures. The board will send the measure to a committee for further consideration.
The board also confirmed Mary Jane Saunders as the new president of Florida Atlantic University. And the board honored Judith Solano, who is stepping down from the board, will step down next year from her position as chair and associate professor of computer and information sciences at the University of North Florida Chair and will retire in 2012. Solano has been at the University of North Florida for more than 20 years.