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FSU, UF vote to increase tuition over Scott's objection

With Gov. Rick Scott giving university leaders the full-court press on tuition, each school's board of trustees has some decisions to make. They can side with Scott and reject the 1.7 percent tuition hike tied to inflation. But many are worried they could alienate the Legislature and turn down much-needed funding in the process.

Today, the University of Florida and Florida State University boards voted to accept the tuition increase, worth $1.4 million and $1.3 million respectively.

“No one likes to raise tuition, but I think the essence for us as a governing board is to make sure we use these dollars wisely, make sure that we deliver value,” said FSU trustee Ed Burr.

Scott has been meeting with university presidents and trustees and making phone calls to press his case. He wants universities to reject the 1.7 percent increase or offset it by reducing last year's tuition increases approved by the Board of Governors by a similar amount.

"Year after year, tuition increases are just not sustainable for our families," Scott said Tuesday. "We just can't keep doing this."

So far, universities have been reluctant to side with Scott. Most say they can't reject the tuition increase because it's required by state law, and they don't want to offset it elsewhere because they have plans for the money.

The final picture will become clearer when each university present its 2013-2014 work plan to the state Board of Governors later this month. Most have the tuition increase and other fee hikes in their preliminary budgets.

In accepting the 1.7 percent increase, FSU and UF's boards said they would use half the money for financial aid. UF will use the remaining half for building maintenance projects that have been delayed during years of budget cutbacks.

FSU's board split on the issue, with four of 13 members voting to reject the tuition increase. They include student body president Rosie Contreras, and three board members appointed by three different governors: Emily Fleming Duda (Jeb Bush), Joseph Gruters (Scott) and Brent Sembler (Charlie Crist). (Clarification: Contreras voted with the others to decline the tuition increase by lowering last year's tuition hike, but later voted with the majority to approve the tuition increase.) 

University of South Florida trustees decided Thursday to wait for more information from the Board of Governors before they decide what to do about the 1.7 percent inflation adjustment. (Click here to read about other budget issues discussed at the USF board meeting.)