State balancing budget on students

“We must have an aggressive agenda to secure funding for higher education.”  These were words that resonated in a speech given by the Frank T. Brogan, chancellor of the State University System, while meeting with the student body presidents from across the state of Florida.

The state is facing difficult economic times, which has taken a toll on higher education funding within the state of Florida. While Florida’s education system may not be considered among the best, it is the third largest in the country, and the next few years will be the time to set a precedent by writing our own chapter in history. During the previous legislative session, a piece of legislation coined “differential tuition” received support by the majority of students in the state university system.

This legislation gives authority to the respective board of trustees at each school to raise tuition as necessary, up to 15 percent every year until the national average is met. Florida A&M’s in-state tuition was increased by 15 percent effective for the fall 2009 semester. 

The recommendation from the governor was 8 percent, but the FAMU Board of Trustees, by virtue of the new legislation, was able to add an additional 7 percent.  

Since the majority of our student body is dependent upon need based aid, the board of trustees decided to have 30 percent of the 15 percent increase to go back into funding for need-based aid. The board of trustees was only required to have 30 percent of the differential (7 percent) go back into a fund for distribution to need-based aid students. 

The SUS community had the courage to make a sacrifice by advocating for differential tuition, and now we are leaning on the same principalities and using our previous decision about differential tuition as proof that we truly care about higher education and the state of Florida.

The entire SUS community is asking the state to invest in higher education. 
We are not only promising a return on Florida’s investment, but we will document and display the value of return on the state’s investment in higher education.  Currently system receives approximately $2 billion for funding, and generates an additional $1.5 billion in research.  Higher education is a revenue generating industry and produces priceless results in reference to preparing tomorrow’s leaders. 

When we are called to action to discuss with the legislature the importance and benefits of investing in higher education, we will emphasize not only the priceless value of higher education, but also its monetary value.

Gallop Franklin is student body president. He can be reached at