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State University Presidents: No Tuition Hikes if We Get More Money


A group of state university presidents gathered at the state Capitol today to try to strike a bargain with state lawmakers. Their message is "Give us more money, and we won't raise tuition this year."

Five years in a row of budget cuts to the state university system has meant fewer classes - and higher tuition. But now, Gov. Rick Scott is opposing any more tuition hikes. And  Florida spends 30 percent less on each student than the national average. So a group of university presidents are saying they won't raise tuition this year -  if state lawmakers give them an extra $118 million over the next two years. It would be divvied up among the state's 12 public universities that reach certain goals - such as graduation rates.

Judy Bense is the president of the University of West Florida. She says graduation rates may suffer if more money isn't coming from the state.
"We cannot continue to tighten our belts without impacting our students and the quality of their education and the quality of their degree," says Bense. "For some of us, that may mean fewer sections and longer time until degree.

Gov. Scott says he opposes tuition hikes, saying more cuts in spending are needed instead.

Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.
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