Lets talk tuition.
College tuition increases are a no-go with Gov. Rick Scott, who wants to keep the cost of living low for families. House Speaker Will Weatherford, on the other hand, thinks Florida students are getting a great deal and can afford to pay a little more.
Weatherford explained his views at a meeting of the Florida Board of Governors, which oversees state universities, on March 28.
The boards student member, Cortez Whatley, asked Weatherford why the House recommended a 6 percent tuition increase for state universities.
Floridas tuition is 48th lowest in the country, Weatherford said. (Quick fact-check: It ranks 41st in 2013. Weatherford has since corrected himself.)
Let me put in perspective something for you that no ones talking about that should be talked about in this debate, he said. The average student in Florida, what they actually pay out of pocket at our major universities, I believe all universities, is about the same amount of money as they spend on this.
He held up his iPhone.
Were more than willing to negotiate with our friends in the Senate and the governor, but we think to just take tuition off the table and ignore the fact that were ranked so low, and ignore the fact that our students are spending more on cellphones to some extent than they are on tuition, is not right, he said.
Students spend as much on tuition as their cellphone? We thought it didnt sound right. And we admit to being surprised by what we found.
Tuition in Florida
Floridas average price for undergraduate tuition and fees at a public university is $6,069 in 2012-13, according to the Board of Governors. Thats up from an average of $5,531 in 2011-12.
Tuition used to be even lower, but public universities have been bumping up tuition to offset steep budget cuts. As a result, the price tag for tuition at a four-year public university in Florida jumped 67 percent over the past five years. Floridas five-year percentage leap for tuition was one of the highest in the country, according to the College Boards 2012 Trends in College Pricing report.
Still, most in-state students dont pay full price. Many receive scholarships, grants and other financial aid. Once you factor in gift aid such as Bright Futures and Pell grants, a students out-of-pocket expenses for tuition and fees comes down.
Weatherfords spokesman and the Board of Governors sent us system-wide averages for gift aid versus what students actually paid in tuition and fees for 2011-12. This is for an in-state undergraduate student taking 15 credit hours of courses each fall and spring semester.
So the average financial gift amount per full-time, in-state undergraduate student for the school year is $4,646. The average amount of what a student actually paid out-of-pocket for tuition and fees is about $400.
The out-of-pocket expense varies widely by family income. Students whose families earn less than $60,000 and comprise about 44 percent of the university system dont pay out-of-pocket for tuition on average because they receive more gift aid based on need. Many students in this income bracket are paying for college independently of their parents, said College Board policy analyst Kathleen Payea.
Students whose families earn more receive fewer dollars in gift assistance and pay between $1,500 and $2,000.