Gov. Jeb Bush’s budget proposal raises concerns over extensive cuts to the state university system.
The $54 billion plan calls for a 7.5 percent tuition increase for universities and a 7 percent increase for community colleges.
Universities would have to eliminate $111.5 million from their budgets and possibly raise tuition another 5 percent to cover increasing costs.
“That’s going to cause people to drop out,” said freshman accounting student Ishawna Bolen.
Bush hinted to Amendment 9 as the cause for the cutbacks. The amendment plans to reduce class sizes in grades K-12 over the next eight years.
University spokeswoman LaNedra Carroll said it is too early to know the impact of the budget cuts. She said President Fred Gainous would consider all available options, including limiting out-of-state student enrollment and hiring part-time faculty.
Freshman LaKeisha Whiting, a business student from Atlanta, said rising out-of-state costs has her concerned.
“I don’t know what percentage of students are on scholarship, but I have to pay out of my pocket,” she said.
Freshman James Jones, 17, a business student from Philadelphia who is on a full scholarship, said he feels bad about tuition hikes.
“It will be bad for my friends,” said Jones.
Bush’s plan allots money for Bright Futures Scholarships, but it might not be enough to cover new costs.
There has been discussion to cut back on scholarship funding. According to the Florida Department of Education, Bright Futures funds over 92,000 students and disbursed over $174 million last school year.
Bolen, who depends on the scholarship, said cutbacks have her worried.
“If they take away Bright Futures, I’ll be swimming in debt for the rest of my life,” she said.
With less funding and more costs on the horizon, Jones said students might elect to go to a school that will stretch their dollars further.
“I think if people have to pay more, they could go to another school and get more for their money,” he said.
Jim Nash, director of communications at Tallahassee Community College, said the school would continue to serve its students despite cutbacks.
“We don’t see anything in the nature of turning students away,” Nash said. “There is a demand, and we will meet it.”
Daneesha Davis can be reached at Daneesha@aol.com