The amount a student shells out for tuition and fees also varies at each state university. The average student at Florida A&M and Florida Atlantic University, for example, does not pay out-of-pocket for tuition and fees, according to data from the Board of Governors. On the other end of the spectrum, a student at the University of Central Florida pays an average of $1,600. At the University of Florida, the average is $248.
You might be wondering, thats it? Keep in mind this analysis excludes other types of financial aid, such as loans, which students must pay back, as well as money their parents paid in through the Florida Prepaid college savings program.
Its worth noting the average student faces thousands more in expenses that go to the total cost of attending a university books, transportation, room and board. At the University of South Florida in Tampa, for example, the average 2012-13 cost of attendance for a full-time, in-state student not living with his or her parents was $20,390. For in-state commuter students, its about $16,000.
Still, Weatherford was careful to specify tuition.
Payea said Weatherfords comparison of cellphone bills and tuition is awkward, as paying for higher education is a long-term investment unlike a monthly discretionary item like a phone. Still, his example may help defray fears about college costs.
Sticker prices appear to be high, but there are so many subsidies, she said.
Well note that the state changed Bright Futures eligibility requirements, primarily by requiring higher test scores, to make the scholarships harder to get. A University of South Florida analysis determined the changes will most likely reduce the number of black and Hispanic freshmen getting the scholarship, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Now we turn to the second part of our analysis: the cost of cellphones. About 86 percent of U.S. residents said they have one, according to the Pew Research Center.
Weatherford spokesman Ryan Duffy directed us to a September 2012 Wall Street Journal story in support of his claim. If Weatherfords point is that cellphones are affordable (like two semesters of in-state tuition), the storys headline does not reinforce it: Cellphones are eating the family budget.
The story describes how the increasing costs of cellphones force families to scrimp elsewhere. Costs will go up even more in the next few years as wireless providers figure out how to make data even faster and more accessible on new networks.
The story cites Labor Department data showing annual household spending on phone services (not isolated to just cellphones) was $1,226 in 2011, up from $1,110 in 2007.
An estimate from J.D. Power and Associates puts it even higher for this year, showing the average monthly wireless bill reported by consumers to be $111 as of March 2013 (or $1,332 for the year).
Those annual bill totals are more than the system-wide average for out-of-pocket costs for tuition and fees (again, about $400). If you isolate cash-paying students, the total tuition bill actually exceeds a years worth of cellphone bills, but not dramatically so.
Weatherford defended his call for a tuition hike before the leaders of the state university system by saying students spend more on cellphones than what they actually pay out of pocket at our major universities for tuition.
We found his point is accurate if you compare the average out-of-pocket cost for all schools against the average cellphone bill, but there are caveats.
Remember, hes just talking about tuition, not the many other costs involved with a students degree.
For the cash-paying families that comprise a majority of the system, the comparison is a little off, with students paying more for tuition than the average cellphone. Others spend a lot less on tuition, or a lot more, depending on their university. More than one-third of Floridas public university students receive enough merit- and need-based financial aid that they do not pay anything for tuition and fees.
Weatherfords claim is accurate but needs clarification. We rate it Mostly True.