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Out-of-State Tuition Hike Eyed

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TALLAHASSEE — Pointing to Florida’s relatively low tuition costs and saying universities face increased demand from out-of-state students, university system officials are floating the idea of raising tuition for students who come from other states.

The system’s Board of Governors is slated to take up the issue during a meeting Thursday. Presidents and trustee chairs of all 12 state universities co-signed a letter endorsing the idea of an out-of-state tuition hike.

“As our universities have climbed in stature, student success measures, and research impact, our universities do have a new challenge to confront — what some might coin ‘a good problem to have’ — the nation’s students are demanding to enroll in the State University System of Florida,” the university officials wrote in the letter.

The universities are asking that each school have leeway to set tuition increases. “That would enable each Board of Trustees to assess its own markets, competitive environment, and strategic plan and to periodically make adjustments in the best programmatic and financial interests of our entire university community,” the letter said.

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Florida had the 11th-lowest undergraduate out-of-state tuition in the country during the 2021-2022 school year at $21,150, according to data included in the Board of Governors’ meeting agenda. That was 17 percent lower than the national average of undergraduate out-of-state tuition.
“The low cost tuition that out-of-state learner’s pay in the State University System of Florida makes attending a Florida university a better deal for many than attending universities in their own state,” the letter said.

Florida during the same year had graduate out-of-state tuition of $25,830 — which was $933 above the national average. The last time that out-of-state tuition was increased in Florida universities was during the 2012-2013 academic year, the officials wrote, “and at that time only two of our system’s 12 institutions increased tuition, so it has been more than a decade since most of our system addressed out-of-state tuition.”

Over roughly the past decade, the percentage of out-of-state students has increased relative to university systemwide enrollment at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

In 2012, the 12,555 non-resident undergraduate students in the system accounted for 4.9 percent of the 258,238 system-wide undergraduate enrollment. Last year, 31,080 out-of-state undergraduates made up 11.3 percent of the 274,477 total undergraduate enrollment.
Similarly, out-of-state graduate enrollment has ticked up over the past 10 years from 26.3 percent in 2012 to 33.5 percent last year, when 25,305 of the total 75,443 graduate students in the system were from other states.

The university presidents and trustee leaders described the proposed out-of-state tuition hike as a way to “prioritize” in-state students. Under state law, the increases for out-of-state students could not exceed 15 percent. “We owe it to Florida’s university-bound students, who are more likely to stay in Florida after graduation, to prioritize our focus around their excellence,” the letter said.

Meanwhile, state officials have committed to keeping tuition rates level for Florida’s in-state students. Data prepared by the Board of Governors, using an annual survey of colleges performed by The College Board, showed that Florida schools this past academic year had the lowest average tuition and fees for full-time resident undergraduates among public four-year schools at $6,365. The national average was $11,103.

Gov. Ron DeSantis last week touted the state’s efforts to keep tuition low before he signed off on the state budget for the coming fiscal year.
“My view is that these tuition increases over the last generation around the country has not improved the quality of the education in any of these universities, it goes to administrative bloat. And it goes to a lot of things that are not really having a direct impact on student achievement,” DeSantis said Thursday.

“So, we’re not doing that in Florida,” the governor added. “We hold the line on tuition, which is very important.”

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