As attorney Dean Colson of Coral Gables presided over his first meeting Wednesday as chair of the Florida Board of Governors, outraged students protested tuition hikes proposed by the BOG
Colson’s State of the University System remarks were geared towards issues he deemed important. He believes that the state of Florida needs to increase access to higher education and help more students graduate. There also needs to be an increase in the number of Science-Technology-Entertainment-Mathematics STEM degrees, he said. Overall this falls into the category of increasing the quality of Florida’s universities.
Students are most worried about the proposed raise in tuition and the lack of financial aid being provided. In Colson’s speech, he admits that in the last five years state support per student has dropped from 70% to 54%. Over this same period of time tuition increased by 51 percent.
According to Colson, Florida tuition rates are still low; only six states have a lower tuition rate than ours. “In these economic times, tuition increases may be the only potential source for new revenue for our universities,” says Colson.
Akeime Leachman, a fourth-year business administration student from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., feels otherwise. “I don’t believe tuition should be increased if we aren’t reaping the benefits of the increases, and financial aid cuts are just making it difficult for students to attend or even finish their matriculation,” Leachman said.
King of Orange and Green Jean Altidor, a fourth-year occupational therapy student from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., also feels strongly about this issue. “By increasing tuition you’re turning people away from the opportunity to gain an education,” Altidor said. “Students come to college assuming they can handle it financially but they have to go home early because they do not have the resources, some end up taking out loans that will have them in debt for years after graduation.”
Colson said that their number one focus is students. “We must continue to be aware of the impact of tuition increases on students, especially middle-class students who do not qualify for Pell Grants,” Colson said.
However, tuition increases seem to be hurting students, not helping them.