Valencia College Pres Urges Lawmakers Not to Increase Tuition
Testifying before the House Education Committee on Thursday, Valencia College president Sandy Shugart said it would be a mistake to raise college tuition rates at a time when federal financial aid was being squeezed due to budget problems. Shugart, along with presidents of several Florida colleges broke with their counterparts at state universities, urging lawmakers to proceed cautiously with plans to increase tuition fees.
“We’re becoming rather expensive in the community college world,” said Shugart, newsserviceflorida.com reports. “I think that’s a huge mistake.”
The House Education Committee has been working on a set of recommendations aimed at overhauling Florida’s higher education system, since Gov. Rick Scott’s declared push that greater emphasis ought to be placed on “STEM” – science, technology, engineering and math – degrees.
Shughart said he is concerned that if tuition fees were to increase students would be stranded in the middle of their education. “I think we would like to keep our doors as open as we can,” he said.
President of Northwest Florida State College, Ty Handy said, students in different areas of the state would respond differently to tuition increases.
“It is population, locality-driven,” he said, newsserviceflorida.com reports. “Some people can afford more, but many people can’t.”
Rep. Bill Procter (R-St. Augustine), chair of the House Education Committee said, before any recommendations are made testimony would be heard from another group of college presidents.
While state university presidents have pressed for greater flexibility in setting their own tuition rates, Procter said a case had been made for separate proposals for colleges and universities and this would be factored into any recommendations of the committee.
The committee is expected to wrap up its work by mid-February.