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University leaders make case to Gov. Scott for tuition increases

SARASOTA — A college degree is an investment, and the state's public universities need to show that they are providing good returns for both their students and Florida taxpayers, Gov. Rick Scott told members of the state Board of Governors on Tuesday.

Scott also made clear that he opposes increasing tuition rates, despite concerns from some that the state university system is underfunded.

"I don't believe we ought to be raising tuition," Scott said. "I'm still concerned about the cost of higher education."

University leaders argue the state has left schools little choice. As schools are being challenged to increase student achievement, they're also being asked to absorb state budget reductions.

Florida State University president Eric Barron said the national profile of his school suffered after it was forced to cut 200 faculty positions to balance its budget in 2010. While Florida State is looking for ways to reduce costs, more tax dollars would help, he said.

"My hope is that as we begin to find efficiencies and reinvest, hopefully the state also sees a reason to give us a little bit of (general revenue) and let us hold our tuition down," Barron said.

After vetoing tuition increases earlier this year, Scott created a task force to identify ways to improve the higher education system.

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