Scott Vetoes Tuition Hikes Above 15% At Florida State, University of Florida

The two universities say they need to boost their budgets to compete with other states' flagship schools

By Steve Litz
|  Friday, Apr 27, 2012  |  Updated 9:46 PM EDT
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Recent college graduate Claudis Nan says he has two bachelor degrees -- and about $60,000 in student debt. He's expecting he'll have to pay about $700 a month on his loans. Other South Florida college students could see a doubling in the cost of their student loans, if Congress does not take action by July 1. It is considering a measure that would keep interest rates for government-subsidized Stafford loans at 3.4 percent, instead of letting them rise to 6.8 percent on July 1.

Recent college graduate Claudis Nan says he has two bachelor degrees -- and about $60,000 in student debt. He's expecting he'll have to pay about $700 a month on his loans. Other South Florida college students could see a doubling in the cost of their student loans, if Congress does not take action by July 1. It is considering a measure that would keep interest rates for government-subsidized Stafford loans at 3.4 percent, instead of letting them rise to 6.8 percent on July 1.

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Governor Rick Scott vetoed a bill Friday that would have allowed two of the most popular colleges in Florida to make major tuition hikes, saying he was concerned about rising student debt and a poor job market for college graduates.

The University of Florida and Florida State University had urged Scott to allow them to increase their rates by more than the current 15 percent a year cap so they could bring their tuition up to market value.

"Many Floridians have offered very passionate advice on this issue," Scott wrote in his veto message. "While this decision has not been easy, I do not feel that I can sign this bill into law without a more detailed plan to ensure the increased tuition requirements on Florida students will provide the return they and other Floridians need on their additional investment."

UF and FSU officials say they need to boost their budgets in order to compete with other flagship state colleges, like the University of Georgia and the Ohio State University.

The annual tuition and fees at Florida's public colleges cost an average of $5,626, well below the national average of $8,244, according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

UF President Bernie Machen said in a statement that he was "so very disappointed" that the governor vetoed the bill. He said it "presented the University of Florida with a pathway toward excellence and would have enabled the great state of Florida to have two world-class universities."

Meanwhile, on another education cost front, some South Florida college students are waiting to see if the cost of their student loans is about to double.

Lawmakers in Washington are considering a measure that would keep interest rates for government-subsidized Stafford loans at 3.4 percent, instead of letting them rise to 6.8 percent on July 1 if no congressional action is taken.

How to pay for the $5.9 billion cost is the controversy. A Republican measure would provide funding by repealing a preventive care program created under President Barack Obama's health care law of 2010. Democrats want to pay for the measure by boosting payroll taxes paid by high-earning business owners.

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