Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Nov. 25: 15% Tuition Increase Is Too High For Florida

By Sylvia Gurinsky

Florida Atlantic University student Slavi Gorgoski had it right when he asked Miami Herald columnist Fred Grimm, ''They're going to raise our tuition 15 percent. Does that mean the college programs will be improved 15 percent?''

No, but it likely means the state of Florida will shirk its responsibility to its higher education students by 15 percent.

A low-to-moderate tuition increase - between three to seven percent - might be necessary. Fifteen percent in this economic climate is outrageous.

Gov. Charlie Crist proposed the increase, plus a plan that would shift tuition responsibility more from the Florida Legislature to the Board of Governors - that's the good news - but would also allow as much as a 40-percent hike in tuition over a three-year period.

Former Sen. Bob Graham, who has been a champion of better higher education, is rightfully worried that tuition increases will prompt the Legislature to play its usual game of cost-shifting.

So, Governor Crist, would you like to explain where the students, many of whom attend these schools because they can't afford any others, are going to get the money to pay for such hikes in a bad economy? And after such moves as Florida International University slashing 22 programs, are you going to explain why it's even worth paying that much more? It's certainly not going to improve the quality of education, or the salaries of any faculty members who don't coach football teams.

(Full disclosure: I am an FIU alumnus.)

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