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Dean's UF fee clears House committee

A House committee approved a program that would charge University of Florida freshmen an extra $500 a semester Tuesday morning with major changes that put the Florida Prepaid Board chairman's at ease.

UF wanted neither Florida Bright Futures Scholarships nor Florida Prepaid to cover the fee, which the school says it will use to hire professors and advisers to further its goal of becoming a top-10 public research university. But Prepaid chairman Ted Hoepner said he felt obligated to deal with the fee because of its likeness to tuition. The Postsecondary Education Committee amended the bill, sponsored by Charles Dean, R-Inverness, as Prepaid asked - relieving policyholders and the board from having to pay an academic enhancement fee.

State University System Chancellor Mark Rosenberg supported the amended bill, suggesting the Board of Governors has reached a compromise with Florida Prepaid on the issue, Hoepner said.

"This is an implementing concept for idea  No.  15," having a top-10 university in Florida, said committee chairman David Mealor, R-Lake Mary, referring to Marco Rubio's book of 100 Innovative Ideas for Florida's Future. "This is a first step. I think it's a necessary step."

The bill passed with no debate. The only no vote came from Dorothy Hukill, R-Port Orange.