Undergraduate students should expect to see a 15 percent tuition increase next year. The legislature approved an 8 percent increase, and university presidents requested that the Board of Governors vote in favor of an additional 7 percent to reach the permitted cap of 15 percent.
The cap was designed in 2007 to allow Florida tuition to gradually reach the national average. Now, many trustees believe the cap is obsolete, saying Florida's tuition will never compare.
"We will never reach the national average at 15 percent a year," University of Florida President Bernie Machen said.
Excluding fees, students would pay $3,840.47 for 30 credit hours next year. The Board of Governors will vote on the tuition increase Thursday.
I’m not sure where we would be without tuition differential sustaining programs that would otherwise be deeply curtailed or demolished,” said University of Central Florida President John C. Hitt.
In the wake of Gov. Rick Scott's $169 million college project veto and a 20 percent cut to Bright Futures scholarships, state universities are being forced to think like corporations.
"We have to get entrepreneurial," Machen said.
Each of the 11 SUS universities addressed the priority of recruiting and retaining superior faculty to attract quality students.
If you want us to move up in national rankings, we have to be able to hire more world-class faculty, and that takes dollars," Machen said, adding that its low teacher-to-student ratio and teacher pay prevent the school from moving ahead.
Most of the universities plan to use tuition increases to add new facilities as well. Machen said UF hopes to reverse Scott's $5.3 million veto that would have helped fund the school's infrastructure, utilities and maintenance and repairs of existing facilities.
Florida Gulf Coast University and New College of Florida aspire to lead the way in conscientious planning, focusing on carbon footprints, student-initiated "green fees," Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification, and environmental research and community service.
FGCU will use non-alumni donations to help the clean building campaign, which they hope will drive an rise in enrollment and critical programs.
However, FGCU President Dr. Wilson G. Bradshaw said, "Buildings don't educate students. Faculty educate students."
Bradshaw added that for the first time in the young school's history more than half of its operating budget will come from tuition, saying that tuition hikes might force the school to price out target students, but not in the next four years.
“The way we did business for the last 25 years is not the way we will do business for the next 25 years,” Machen said. “We have competition in the form of the state college system and the for-profits in competition around us. And we have a benefactor in a state that will not be able to fund us anymore.”