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Senate okays bid to raise tuition up to 15 percent a year

State university students will face tuition hikes of up to 15 percent annually under legislation that passed the Florida Senate this afternoon on a 30-7 vote.

Sen. Ken Pruitt’s bill allows all 11 state universities to charge a tuition differential, which combined with base tuition increases cannot equal more than a 15 percent a year, the goal being to get Florida to the national average of more than $6,500 for tuition and fees. In-state tuition and fees for a full-time student in Florida are now less than $3,900 a year.

The bill awaits expected House approval and will certainly be signed by Gov. Charlie Crist, who has made the measure one of his legislative priorities for 2009.

Previously, UF, FSU, USF, UCF and FIU were given the authority to charge a tuition differential with approval from the Board of Governors.

Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Valrico, was one of the seven nay votes, saying, "What we will be doing with this bill is moving college out of reach for a vast segment of our population."