By Emily Ostrom
Prospective college students may initially feel happy about Governor Charlie Crist’s decision to maintain Florida’s low tuition prices–yet they may find themselves coping with the repercussions once they enter the classroom.
Both students and faculty worry about the future of public college education in Florida after Crist’s controversial veto of a 5 percent tuition increase for Florida’s largest public schools. With this current decision in place, the universities are struggling to keep everyone happy.
The University of Florida, for example, may encounter hiring freezes and overcrowded classes–particularly in its College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Already one of the most selective colleges in the state, the University of Florida may soon need to lower its acceptance rate even further to solve this problem.
These tighter admissions standards add to the ongoing pressure that high school students feel from heavy course loads and standardized tests.
Besides the University of Florida, other schools such as Florida State University are also experiencing similar budgetary restrictions. “When Florida State froze admissions, it scared a lot of high school students, ” said Sarah Taylor, a 17-year-old from Tallahassee. “If they do this now, what will happen later when I’m applying?”
Rather than cutting out even more applicants, Mike Foley, a Hugh Cunningham Professor in Journalism Excellence at UF, favors an increase in tuition. Foley explained that the majority of the student body also approves of the tuition increase, according to a recent vote by the student government. After all, “Most students don’t care about tuition,” Foley said, noting that many of them have the aid of their parents’ credit card.
For those UF aspirants who do worry about costs, Foley affirms that Crist’s decision does guarantee “a cheap ride through a great college.”
Other options for raising the greatly needed revenue include eliminating the popular Bright Futures program, according to the Florida Prepaid College Plan website. “Bright Futures would definitely affect my decision of whether or not to attend a Florida state school,” said Kristen Jugs, 17, a rising senior at Cardinal Gibbons High School.
As the debate continues over Crist’s veto of a tuition increase, Florida students must decide what is more important for them and their families in terms of cost and education.
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