I guess that's why she's the columnist and I'm just a blogger. Marquez really gets not only the history of funding for higher ed in Florida, but also the problems with the current system. And best of all, she drops some cold, hard numbers on us.
Crist is trying to offer a sensible fix for the state's 11 universities: allow each to raise tuition by up to 15 percent, which would not be covered by Bright Futures but would be honored for those families buying into the prepaid college plan. This would add about $370 next year to the average $3,800 tuition and fees for a full-time in-state student. That's still a great deal considering that the national average is $6,585.Fifteen percent sounds like a massive jump, and in some ways, it is. After all, I'd be ecstatic if the state offered me a 15% raise next year (as opposed to the 1% and a one-time, non-recurring bonus that's currently on the table, while the university president gets a 10% raise). But when compared to what the national average is (and remember, since we're so cheap, we're instrumental in bringing that average down), a 15% jump is a pittance.
And we're going to need every penny, because the state budget is looking even grimmer than previously estimated. When that happens, universities have to give money back to the state, money we don't have, frankly. Being able to raise tuition outside the Bright Futures program is imperative if the university is going to be able to offer even the services it currently provides. Again, and I can't emphasize this enough, you cannot judge the health of a university by the quality of its athletic teams. Even UF is hurting from these cuts, and they're the flagship state university. Those of us at smaller universities are feeling it even harder, even as we're pressured to enroll more students.