Parents or guardians with students who plan to join Florida Prepaid College Plans (which I highly advocate) or get a Bright Futures Scholarship should read this:
With universities warning of dire budget problems, the Florida Senate overwhelmingly approved a plan that could give universities the green light to raise tuition by an additional 7 percent, for a total of 15 percent.
Now the House approved it too and it’s being sent to Gov. Charlie Crist, who is expected to sign it into law.
Senate Bill 762 (SB 762) allows all 11 state universities to charge a tuition differential, or supplement, which is a power previously awarded to the University of Florida, Florida State, South Florida, Central Florida and Florida International.
What will happen if they pass this bill?
Bright Futures won’t be so bright next year for Florida’s top university undergraduates, who are likely to be paying a greater percentage of their tuition costs.
The latest budget offer keeps the Bright Futures scholarships at current-year levels and does not increase the funding to match even the base increase tuition of 8 percent likely to be approved this session. This means scholarship recipients will have to pick up the extra tab. The Bright Futures’ scholarship fund is funded by Lottery proceeds and currently allows many students to pay little or no tuition at state universities.
The additional increases for the Prepaid Florida Plan — known as “differential” increases — would not apply to students who attended universities before July 1, 2007. Also, they would not apply to families who had Florida Prepaid contracts before that date. However, they will raise the prices greatly for parents who want to join in the next enrollment period.
What can parents and guardians do?
Let the Governor know that you think this is a bad idea. Tuition could nearly double within five years for those with teenagers, and more than double for those with toddlers.
We voted for them. Now it’s time for them to support us. They need to find another way to cover Florida´s budget shortfalls so our kids will be able to go to college.
Our kids are our future. Tell Governor Charlie Christ to vote NO on the college tuition hike bill.
For parents and guardians who are not invested in the Florida Prepaid College Plan, even if they raise the costs, it is probably worth it. Who knows what the economic picture will be in the future and anyone who buys a prepaid plan has a contract with the state of Florida, so your payments will be locked in from the time you sign up, and the state must foot the bill for college regardless of future financial conditions. You can enroll now in Florida Prepaid but are subject to prices effective October 2009. These have not been made public yet.
For information, go to www.myfloridaprepaid.com or call 800-552-4723.