Could tuition be raised at Florida’s universities?

8 On Your Side

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Florida college students and their families, get ready. At a time when many are struggling financially, the new Florida Senate President is considering raising tuition at state universities.

The idea is to help make up for a projected 2.7 billion dollar budget shortfalls but as 8 On Your Side found, any increase will hit students and their families squarely in the wallet. A tuition spike would impact thousands of our viewers.

State Senator Wilton Simpson, who represents parts of the Tampa Bay area, is floating the idea in Tallahassee. For the past week, 8 On Your Side has tried to get more details from Senator Simpson’s office.

Alex Parramore is a sophomore at USF, as classes moved online for coronavirus, Parramore thinks costs should’ve been cut.

“If you really think about the way that school is for us this year,” said Parramore, “it’s nowhere near the same level of education that we were getting last semester.”

There’s no cuts planned, but instead, a tuition increase is now on the table, as Sen. Simpson told reporters in Tallahassee last month.

“I think that is a viable opportunity,” said Sen. Simpson on Nov. 17.

“We want to make sure we maintain a very high level of higher education, but at the same time we have kids that are in and out of foster care because we don’t have resources to be able to manage that system.”

As Sen. Simpson points out, Florida’s tuition rates have been steady since 2013 and more importantly, Sen. Simpson says funding is needed for foster kids.

“So when you start putting priorities together I’m going to have a higher priority to make sure we are taking care of those most vulnerable children,” said Sen. Simpson.

Students have questions.

They want to know how much tuition could increase – and when?

Also, is there another way to make up for the state’s major budget deficit?

For the past week, 8 On Your Side has tried to get specifics from Sen. Simpson but a spokeswoman says he has no additional comments at this point.

Meanwhile, Parramore would like answers so he can start planning for a potential tuition increase.

“I can try to get scholarships as much as possible,” said Parramore.

Sen. Simpson’s office says he’s appointed committees and he’s overseeing that process.

At this point, he has nothing else to add.

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