Tallahassee, FL - John Stevenson, a journalism student at West Florida University in Pensacola, covers the state legislature for his school paper.
“This is a great time to start getting involved in the legislature, and continue to do so as an adult,” said Stevenson.
John and more than a hundred students from Florida’s 11 public universities traveled to the state capitol Tuesday, upset over proposed changes and cuts to higher education.
While the number of concerns were as plentiful as the number of schools represented at the state capitol, freshmen and sophomores seem to have the same concern cuts to the Bight Future’s Scholarship Program.
Lawmakers want to cut 100 million dollars from the program. Those changes would leave FAU Freshman Brittany Finn looking for more money to pay for school.
“I’ve got 75 percent so of course it’s a majority of my tuition and fees,” said Finn.
There’s also talk of closing enrollment in Florida’s Prepaid College Program. One in five students at state universities has a prepaid plan. The program helped USF Senior Lara McDermott pay for school. She worries about future students.
“Parents are going to have to make hard choices, students are going to have to make choices about whether or not they are going to have to accrue massive amounts of debt,” said Lara.
University Systems Chancellor Frank Brogan, a guest speaker at the rally, held an impromptu meeting with students. He was kind but blunt.
“The legislature for the last three or four years with all the budget cuts, pulled every rabbit out of every hat. There are just no rabbits left,” said Brogan.
And with federal stimulus dollars all gone, tuition at all schools will likely increase by 15 percent, and that still won’t be enough to stave off budget cuts. Education funding is expected to drop by at least 150 million dollars this year as lawmakers struggle to find ways to fill the 3.75 billion dollar budget hole.