Higher ed could cost more for dawdlers

Florida Board of Governors members Pamela Bilbrey, from left, Peter Rummell, Debra Austin and Carolyn Roberts laugh before a break in their regular meeting in the University of Florida's J. Wayne Reitz Union on Thursday.

CHRISTINA STUART/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Friday, January 23, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 23, 2004 at 12:52 a.m.
Indecisive university students racking up loads of course hours over the amount needed to graduate could end up paying as much as four times more than they do now.
The Florida Board of Governors endorsed a proposal Thursday that would force students with 10 percent more hours than needed to graduate or who are not enrolled in degree programs to pay out-of-state tuition. For in-state undergraduates at the University of Florida, hourly fees could rise, for example, from about $93 to about $460, based on Spring 2004 fees.
The policy was one of a series of recommendations approved in concept by the Board of Governors and brought forth by Gov. Jeb Bush in his proposed 2004-2005 budget released on Tuesday. The budget includes an increase of $144.1 million of direct support for universities.
About half of the extra money - $76 million - is expected to come in tuition increases of 7.5 percent for in-state students and 12.5 percent for out-of-state students. Both increases were approved Thursday by the Board of Governors, even though officials from Florida International University indicated that a rate increase on out-of-state tuition could have a detrimental impact on its ability to recruit students.
Despite a last-minute attempt to make the out-state-tuition increase optional, a majority of board members decided to go with Bush's suggestion.
"If we start unbuckling this, we are going to have a problem," said board member John Dasburg, chief executive and co-owner of ASTAR Air Cargo in Miami.
Some of the other initiatives endorsed by the board include:
  • Doling out $10 million in rewards to universities expanding programs for critical shortage areas such as teaching, nursing, engineering and information technology.
  • Allowing universities to establish block tuition rates for full-time students - a system to encourage them to take more classes and possibly graduate earlier.
  • Providing tuition billing statements denoting the amount funded by the state.
    The penalty for students lingering too long in school drove the most debate.
    Howard Rock, a professor of history at FIU and chairman of the Faculty Senate, complained that the move could have a chilling effect on students' ability to explore their options.
    "This will freeze out so many people," Rock said.
    Nonetheless, many board members expressed sentiments similar to Steve Uhlfelder, a Tallahassee lawyer and past member of the Florida Board of Regents, the predecessor to the Board of Governors.
    "People who have decided to take excess hours should pay more for the limited spaces that we have," Uhlfelder said.
    University boards of trustees now will be asked to develop criteria by which the excess-hour rule and block tuition could be implemented.
    Janine Young Sikes can be reached at 337-0327 or sikesj@gvillesun.com.
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