FAMU may be in for another tuition hike

Gov. Charlie Crist announced Thursday his proposal that will allow 11 schools to increase their tuition up to 15 percent a year.

In the proposal, Florida A&M University, and other schools in the state could increase their tuition over the next seven years.

A press release by Crist said the power to raise tuition would be in the hands of the university board of trustees. The Board of Governors would have to approve the amount set by the trustees.

Those students who receive Bright Futures scholarships will not have to worry about the original cost of tuition. However, the differential tuition, higher fees set by the university, will not be covered. Those students with Florida Prepaid tuition who were enrolled before July 1, 2007 will be exempt.

President James Ammons agreed with the new proposal. He said with budget cuts and the cost of utilities, an increase in tuition is not the best way to deal with the economic hardships, but is necessary.

“Even though we are able to offer the courses students need to graduate, we cannot do much more than that,” Ammons said. “We have to cut our budget down to the bare bone.”

Higher tuition at FAMU would not only help with cuts the school has suffered, but recruitment for other faculty members.

“These funds can be used for new faculty positions that will reduce class sizes and provide much needed salary increases for our faculty,” he said.

Ammons added that more academic support services could be funded which could help with graduation and retention rates.

Crist’s proposal will also make universities set aside 30 percent of the money raised for those students who are need-based for financial aid.

“Students that would need additional financial support will get it through the provisions the Governor assured is a part of this package,” Ammons said.

Rickita Leniar, 20, a third-year business administration student from Detroit said the additional fees from the university would be a financial burden.

“Tuition should not be increased,” she said. “It’s already high especially for out of state students like myself.”

Leniar said the percentage proposed to set aside for those students in need would not benefit her either.

“According to the government, my family can afford my education plus more,” said Leniar in reference to the Student Aid Report given by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. “So I don’t receive any financial assistance whatsoever, only loans. It would only make things much worse.”

Dennis Mobley, 21, a business administration student from Riviera Beach said the increase should not affect those who have earned the scholarships to FAMU.

“Bright Futures is for those students who have excelled, they should not have to pay an increase,” he said.

The proposal will not go into effect unless Legislature approves.