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Senators Embark On Four Day University Listening Tour

From Left, Sen. Bill Montford (D-Tallahassee), FAMU President Elmira Mangum, Sen. Joe Negron (R-Stuart), Sen. Lizbeth Benaquisto (R-Ft. Meyers).
Nick Evans

Incoming Senate President Joe Negron is touring Florida’s university system.  He’s considering a tuition break to encourage on-time graduation.

Sen. Negron (R-Stuart) is on a four-day listening tour visiting each of the state’s universities with a number of fellow senators.  At Florida State University he talked about encouraging students to take a full 15 credit courseload each semester.

“I think we should have an expectation that absent unusual circumstances people should finish a four year degree in four years,” Negron says.  “So if cost is a reason why students are only taking 12 hours rather than 15 I think we should address that.”

Negron suggests lawmakers might find a way to eliminate tuition for the additional credit hours as an incentive for taking a heavier load.

The delegation next stopped at Florida A&M University.  The school has come under fire in recent years for slipping graduation rates, and it was a central concern for the lawmakers in attendance. 

But Sen. Oscar Braynon (D-Miami) believes the university’s academic problems are tied to economic disparity.

“I mean there’s just a difference in the median income that the kids are coming to school with,” Braynon says, “I mean if they got the same grades and the same test scores and yet the results are coming back differently, there are some things that are different and that’s kind of the stuff I wanted to point out today.”

Braynon says many students at FAMU have to support themselves financially and it’s making academic success more difficult.  

Nick Evans came to Tallahassee to pursue a masters in communications at Florida State University. He graduated in 2014, but not before picking up an internship at WFSU. While he worked on his degree Nick moved from intern, to part-timer, to full-time reporter. Before moving to Tallahassee, Nick lived in and around the San Francisco Bay Area for 15 years. He listens to far too many podcasts and is a die-hard 49ers football fan. When Nick’s not at work he likes to cook, play music and read.