Students Face Higher Tuition and Cuts to Financial Aid

By: Lilly Rockwell, The News Service of Florida
By: Lilly Rockwell, The News Service of Florida

THE CAPITAL, TALLAHASSEE, March 23, 2011 --

Students will pay more for tuition and receive less financial aid under early drafts of higher education budget proposals emerging in the Legislature.

Under pressure to whack hundreds of millions of dollars from higher education programs, legislative budget writers have suggested cuts to nearly every state-funded financial aid program that exists, from scholarships like the popular Bright Futures program to the Florida Resident Access Grants given to private school students.

Lawmakers in both the House of Representatives and Senate have targeted popular programs such as Bright Futures, which guarantees funding for public universities and college for eligible students. The Senate wants to cut per-student funding of those scholarships by $1,000, while the House has suggested a 15 percent cut. Legislators also want to toughen eligibility requirements so that fewer students qualify for Bright Futures.

This comes on top of a proposed tuition increase in the House’s higher education budget of 5 percent. State universities can also raise tuition above the amount set in state budgets, with a limit of a 15 percent total increase.

Republicans in the Legislature, who control the budget writing process, have said for months that these cuts are a painful, but necessary, reaction to a sluggish economy and the lack of federal economic stimulus funds.

“It’s a pretty rough economic time,” said Rep. Marlene O’Toole, R-Lady Lake. “It is what it is. It wasn’t like we went in and slashed and burned without reason. We didn’t have the dollars.”

Democrats, who are vastly outnumbered in both the House and Senate, say they are concerned about proposals to cut student aid during a time when many families are struggling and tuition costs are rising.

However, many critics cautioned that it is too early in the budget game to wring hands over cuts.

“I am grateful that what was proposed today is not the final budget,” said Rep. Betty Reed, D-Tampa, who sits on the House Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee. “If this were the final budget, the spending cuts and the increases in tuition would combine for a very dim look for the future of our state.”

Frank Brogan, chancellor of the State University System Board of Governors, said earlier this week that because tuition increases are expected, legislators must remain sensitive to not “pricing eligible students out of the market.”
“It is incumbent upon us to remember that so many of our students are desperate for financial assistance,” he said.

Private universities and colleges are also bracing for budget cuts.

The Florida Resident Access Grant (FRAG), which gives a set grant to Florida students who attend Florida private schools, is being slashed in the House budget by $300 per student.

The Senate is looking at similar cuts and could shift the state’s grant-giving policy, allowing private universities some leeway to give out FRAG awards in varying amounts, said Ed Moore, the President of the Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida.

Rep. Jeff Clemens, D- Lake Worth, complained Wednesday that drafts of the higher education budget show a preference towards private schools over the type of aid given to students at public universities.

That’s because the House has suggested per-student cuts in grants to private school students of about 8.9 percent, less than the cut to scholarships like Bright Futures, which is taking a 15 percent hit.

One unexpected budget wrinkle is the emergence of Keiser University as a non-profit. Now that Keiser is non-profit, its students qualify for the grants given to private school students. Its new pool of over 5,000 students means the other 35,000 students who are eligible would receive a smaller award.

The House has suggested giving students attending schools that are newly eligible for FRAG grants – like Keiser - a lesser award of $645 a year.

Other targets in the budget are historically black colleges and universities, which might see their funding drop by anywhere from 23 percent to as much as 50 percent under budget proposals.

Meanwhile, the Senate has suggested cutting funding that had paid for 14 Board of Governors positions and an overall cut of 30 percent, while the House is more restrained. Lawmakers in both chambers say they will refuse to put state funds toward university system salaries that extend past $200,000 a year.

The suggested cuts are not final. The House of Representatives and Senate will start debating the overall budget next week, and in the coming weeks, hearing arguments from lobbyists and other groups on why certain cuts shouldn’t be made. Then, they’ll negotiate on a final budget that is passed by the end of the 60-day legislative session.


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  • by Rob Location: Michigan on Apr 14, 2011 at 11:37 AM
    Its a Fact that unemployment rate is lower the higher education one obtains. Fact higher the education one obtains the more they pay in taxes over there lifetime close to over $200,000 more for college graduate over a highschool graduate. This alone is more then enuf reason to keep funidng financial aid. Not only is it a good investment in our nations future it also good investment in our community safety. Crime rate is lower amoung college graduates and violent crimes is almost nill. Financial aid gives hope to those that would otherwise not have it I promise you one thing I feel alot safer knowing my fellow Americans have hope and dreams and are working towards them vs being out in public with a nation full of desprate hopeless indivduals that feel there country has failed them and dont want them as they exploited by the rich.
  • by Miche on Apr 12, 2011 at 08:42 PM
    Ok Tom listen how the heck do you come off saying that because if these college students don't get their funding then NO ONE WILL BE ABLE TO WORK BECAUSE YOU COULD BE LOSING OUT ON A FUTURE PRESIDENT THAT COULD ACTUALLY FIX AMERICAN
  • by ANNETTE Location: TALLAHASSEE on Mar 24, 2011 at 01:49 PM
    PLEASE.....THINK AGAIN, AGAIN AND AGAIN. THINK ABOUT THE KIDS THAT WANT TO GO TO SCHOOL AND WANT BE ABLE TO. BECAUSE THEY CAN'T AFFORD TO GO. THIS IS'NT RIGHT AT ALL. I THINK THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IS TO GIVE OUR KIDS A CHANCE TO BE WHATEVER THEY CHOOSE TO BE IN LIFE. SO PLEASE THINK ABOUT NOT CUTTING FINANCIAL AID AND GRANT MONEY. ALOT OF US NEED THAT.
    • reply
      by tom on Mar 24, 2011 at 04:09 PM in reply to ANNETTE
      PLEASE.........THINK AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN ABOUT THE HARD WORKING AMERICANS THAT GOTO WORK AND BUST THEIR BUTT TO TRY TO PAY THEIR RENT FOOD AND GAS BILLS AND THEN HAVE MORE TAXES TAKEN FROM THEM TO PAY FOR YOUR EDUCATION. I HOPE YOU DO GET A GREAT EDUCATION AND A GREAT JOB WITH GREAT BENEFITS AND HAVE A GREAT WELL PAYING CAREER YOU LOVE.....HOWEVER I DO NOT WANT TO PAY YOUR TUITION SO PLEASE THINK ABOUT NOT TAKING MY HARD EARNED MONEY TO PAY FOR YOUR EDUCATION
  • by Nikki Location: Tallahassee on Mar 24, 2011 at 11:49 AM
    I worked every second I wasn't in class and had a scholarship and still could barely keep up with the cost of classes, books, rent, food and gas. Allowing tuition to be raised and cutting financial aid to save a buck is ridiculous. Why don't you ask college deans, administrators and professors to take a pay cut? That would certainly save some money and allow students to still abe able to afford to go to school.If you want a nation of uneducated burger flippers, then you're headed in the right direction.
  • by Carrie Location: Perry on Mar 24, 2011 at 08:51 AM
    Cut their financial aid off all together it is our tax $$$$ paying for this & if they cant afford the tuition then they dont need to go
    • reply
      by school girl on Mar 24, 2011 at 10:10 AM in reply to Carrie
      I'm a tax payer... My taxes that I pay every year for the last 10 years isn't good enough to pay for my own tuition... Good grief... but yet we all pay for well fair and most of them just sit on their butts. At least I work everyday. I'm not asking for anything free... just a little help.
    • reply
      by Anon on Mar 24, 2011 at 12:47 PM in reply to Carrie
      Carrie, you're a shining example of what is wrong with America.
      • reply
        by Ashley on Mar 24, 2011 at 09:40 PM in reply to Anon
        I agree with Anon. Carrie is excatly why. No doubt about it!
  • by school girl on Mar 24, 2011 at 08:22 AM
    I am a 24 yr old, full time student and I hold a full time job. With the economy's rise in food, gas, housing, etc. how in the world would my $7.85 per hour job pay for my daughter, housing, food, necessities and then school??? I need an education to get a better job, right? but people want to gripe and complain about paying taxes that help out the ones who bust their butts to make a better life for themselves and family. This is going to be a major impact on my life. Your going to be paying taxes regaurdless so why complain when it helps people like me out?
    • reply
      by Ima on Mar 24, 2011 at 08:59 AM in reply to school girl
      Sorry, you should have thought of that BEFORE you had children, not AFTER.
      • reply
        by school girl on Mar 24, 2011 at 10:16 AM in reply to Ima
        minus the child, the fact is this economy want allow me (and other students like me) to survive with just a minimum wadge job. The Price of LIVING is rising constantly but jobs are still not paying out for raises to help with the rising costs and you can't get a good job without an education (which I'm trying to get) I don't have mommy and daddy paying for my every need. I'm independent and need a lil help from the government at which I've contributed in tax paying for YEARS now!!!!!!!!!!!
  • by common Location: south on Mar 24, 2011 at 08:01 AM
    College education is over-rated, and has become big business. If students worked their way through college, without grants, or loans, or daddy's money you would see a drop in enrollment and force providers to bring salaries, tuitions, etc back to reasonable levels. Too logical?
  • by Sarah Location: Florida on Mar 24, 2011 at 07:49 AM
    The sad reality is this: We say that we want our youth and adults to be educated and I agree with this. Problem is...learning begins at home and many(not all) parents have kids and set them aside to fend for themselves. Then teachers in grade schools are not worried if Little Johnny learns or not. Now when people want to go to college with the rising costs of everything else you want to cut their assistance...how the heck do we expect America to be educated with this kind of stuff going on. Oh wait...you want the rich to be smart...I get it now! WTHE!!
  • by WTH on Mar 24, 2011 at 06:06 AM
    Wow, what kind of country do we live in where we attack health care, public education and now financial aid? This is madness!
    • reply
      by TOM on Mar 24, 2011 at 06:36 AM in reply to WTH
      what kind of country do we live in when people think they can steal my money to pay for THEIR health care education and financial aid. STEALING IS STEALING and if you did it you would be in jail
    • reply
      by tom on Mar 24, 2011 at 07:04 AM in reply to WTH
      WTH.......I hope you get a great education and then get a great job with great benefits (I really do) but...... it is not my job to pay for you life. Go live your life and prosper just leave my billfold out of it
    • reply
      by Rob on Apr 14, 2011 at 11:48 AM in reply to WTH
      the kind that think the top 400 famileis that have mroe then the bottom 155 million families should get tax cuts while we force our youth into the streets to work for minimum wage, work 80 aweek just to pay for it all. Then cal them lazy and worthless... Super Rich is running this country and they running into the ground on the back of the working class. Trying to kill the middle class as they are educated enuf to see what going on and fight against them.
  • by tom Location: madison on Mar 24, 2011 at 03:00 AM
    NOTHING IS FREE. Some one has to pay for everything. My idea is we cut all the professor's pay in half and all the extra money is given to the kids for tuition...... afterall the teachers always tell us it's not about the money but the kids, and this would prove it. lol
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