Legislators to consider block tuition

During its annual session, Florida legislators will soon decide on whether to implement block tuition for all state-funded universities.

Block tuition is a system that will ensure that full-time students will be charged for 15 credit hours per semester, regardless of whether they take 15 hours or not.

According to members of the state’s Board of Governors, charging students for 15 credit hours will almost guarantee that they will take 15 hours or more and will expedite students’ graduation.

Another reason cited by the Board is that the amount of seats available for graduating high school seniors is far exceeded by the number seeking to attend a state-funded university once they graduate.

Both Florida A&M University and Florida State University have reported problems with overcrowding in on-campus housing.

Accelerating the graduation rate for students already in school will guarantee more available seats for incoming freshmen.

Chad Chevalier, 21, a junior pharmacy student from Miami, agrees.

“I think this plan will motivate us as students to get out of here.”

However, a number of students have expressed their disagreement with the proposal.

Rondarious Harris, 27, a junior English student from Panama City, said, “Forcing students to pay for 15 hours is not a good idea because alot of students work and cannot handle taking an extra class or being charged for an extra class.”

Crystal James, 22, a senior business administration student from Jacksonville agrees that block tuition is not the best idea.

“I don’t think block tuition is good because basically they are forcing students to graduate when they want you to graduate.”

If the Board’s proposal gets the Legislature’s approval, as of fall 2005, block tuition would be effective at all state-funded colleges and universities in Florida.

In a 6-5 vote, Florida State University’s Board of Trustees decided to back the implementation of the block tuition program.

A number of the FSU trustees cited a logjam of students as the reason for their support.

In a Sept. 25 Tallahassee Democrat article, an FSU trustee said, “One way to look at it is FSU is increasing the price for 12 hours, but students can take more than 15 for free.”

During his initial proposal, Gov. Jeb Bush suggested allowing Florida schools to individually decide on whether to adopt block tuition.

The proposal was not included in the final draft of the legislation.

The Office of the Governor has asked Florida schools to reply on their interest.

Larry Morris, a FAMU senior, said block tuition to ensure speedy graduation rates is needed to force students to do what they came to college to do.

“If I would have had block tuition, I would have been a more efficient student.”

Efficient or not, block tuition is an issue on which students may never agree.

Contact Tera Hodges at terahodges@yahoo.com and Steven Jumper at jumpersoulrb@aol.com