FAMU and FSU to raise tuition, but not by much

Jun 21, 2012

Florida State University students can expect to pay about 13-percent more for their classes this year, and FAMU students can expect a 12-percent increase. But that’s not what the two schools wanted.  The increases are a compromise of sorts between members of the state board that oversees Florida’s public universities.  And over the course of a two-hour meeting Thursday, votes over tuition increases were all over the place.

Board of Governors Chairman Dean Colson found himself acting as an auctioneer as his board haggled over how big a tuition increase each state university should get.  The process was long and fraught with tension as university presidents anxiously waited to see whether their tuition plans would get through, or, in the case of Florida State, Florida A&M and several others—get changed. After several rounds of votes, board member Ava Parker said, “One could certainly say there’s never been a method to our madness, but there’s certainly not a method to our madness right now.”   

When officials took up Florida State University’s 15-percent request, the process continued in much the same way, with the board first voting down the 15-percent request, then trying a 14-percent increase.

After two failed votes, FSU President Eric Barron finally had enough.

 “That’s an amazing message to the faculty and the students that the ranked universities in the state, and the research universities in the state, will get the least resources to advance students,” Barron said. “Those are the universities that are supposed to keep the best and brightest students in the state.”

Barron’s words prompted one board member, Norman Tripp, to change his “no” vote, to a “yes”, and with that, FSU received a 13-percent tuition increase.

With Board member Norman Tripp reversing his earlier no vote, the board approved a 13-percent rate hike for FSU.

Next up, Florida A&M. The board previously expressed concerns over the school’s low-graduation rate and student loan debt. But board member Ava Parker noted the school faces lots of challenges in the upcoming year:

“I guess my thoughts are that the university is really going to struggle this year based on all the external factors, and they’re going to need the extra income.”   

FAMU is facing a public-relations nightmare stemming from the fallout over the hazing death of a drum major several months ago, and audit problems. While the state board said FAMU’s initial 15-percent request was too much, it settled on a 12-percent increase.