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A plan to increase out-of-state tuition in Florida is put on pause

 students walking on campus
Victoria Crosdale
/
WUSF Public Media
Students walk on the USF campus in Tampa.

The plan by the state university system’s Board of Governors would have raised tuition by as much as 15% for out-of-state students.

Florida higher-education officials on Thursday put on hold a request by university presidents to raise tuition for out-of-state students, hours after Gov. Ron DeSantis touted efforts to avoid tuition hikes over the past decade.

The state university system’s Board of Governors, which oversees Florida’s network of 12 universities, was slated to weigh approval of a plan that would allow schools to individually raise tuition by up to 15% for students who come from other states.

But Eric Silagy, the board’s vice chairman, announced Thursday that the plan was being postponed, saying “additional work” is needed before potentially implementing the tuition increase.

“We are not going to be taking that up today. Although a lot of work has already been done on this item, upon some further examination, it was determined that there was going to be some additional work and time spent on this before we bring it up formally,” Silagy said.

Silagy’s comments came shortly after DeSantis addressed tuition during a media event in Tampa Thursday morning.

“We are the lowest in America for tuition and fees in higher-education, and that’s really important,” DeSantis said, eliciting applause from an audience. “And I don’t think we have done tuition increases in Florida for about 10 years. So, that’s something that’s been very, very significant.”

The presidents of each state university and the chairs of the universities’ boards of trustees backed the idea of a tuition hike for out-of-state students.

In a joint letter to university system Chancellor Ray Rodrigues and Board of Governors Chairman Brian Lamb, the university officials wrote that they have seen an increased demand from students outside of Florida to enroll in their schools.

The presidents and trustee chairs also characterized the proposed tuition hike as a way to “prioritize” in-state students. They pointed out that the last time tuition was increased for out-of-state students was during the 2012-13 academic year and that it has “been more than a decade since most of our system addressed out-of-state tuition.”

“During this same time period, applications for out of state admissions has grown substantially. The rest of the country is looking at the quality of our education and recognizing that Florida is the best bargain,” the letter, sent in December, said.

During the 2021-2022 school year, Florida had an undergraduate out-of-state tuition rate of $21,150, which was 17% lower than the national average of undergraduate out-of-state tuition, according to data included in the Board of Governors meeting agenda.

Out-of-state tuition for graduate students during the same year was $25,830, a rate that was $933 above the national average.

DeSantis, who is running for president in 2024, has made keeping Florida’s college and university tuition low a pillar of his higher-education policies. The governor’s remarks during Thursday’s Tampa appearance contrasted Florida’s stance on tuition with that of other states.

“I think that the tuition increases we’ve seen around the country, huge increases, massive loans, massive debt, that is not the way to do it. So I’m proud in the state of Florida that we’re making this affordable for people,” he said.

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