Bill would ban automatic tuition hikes at UCF

'Differential tuition' fee would also be banned


ORLANDO, Fla. – UCF would be banned from raising "differential" tuition as well as automatically raising traditional tuition at the rate of inflation under a bill that passed the Senate Education Committee this month.

The bill comes about a year after what Gov. Rick Scott called his "worthy battle" to keep tuition rates flat ended with universities rejecting his request to do so. Citing a state law, the universities automatically raised tuition by the rate of inflation, even after Scott vetoed a 3 percent hike passed by the Legislature in 2013.

Florida Senate Bill 1400 repeals that automatic inflation law, allows undocumented immigrants to pay in-state rates, expands the mandatory tuition waiver for recipients of certain combat decorations and "reduces the costs of prepaid contracts from the Florida Prepaid Program by reducing the amounts the program will pay to public postsecondary institutions," according to a Senate committee analysis.

The Florida Student Association held a "Rally in Tally" Wednesday on behalf of students throughout the state university system in support of SB 1400 and a similar bill in the Florida House, sponsored by Sen. Jack Latvala and Rep. Jeanette Núñez, respectively.

While the FSA didn't help get the ban on differential and automatic tuition hikes in the bill, "we are pleased to have it," said UNF Director of Communications Ryan Traher, while summarizing the position of FSA Chair and UNF Student Body President Carlo Fassi.

"Whether the end result is the differential cap being set at 6 percent or 0 percent, we like it better than the current 15 percent," Traher added, referring to the current law allowing universities to raise rates up to 15 percent with approval from the Florida Board of Governors.

The FSA also said it's supporting "Hard Hats for Higher Education," a student-led campaign stressing the importance of academic facilities funding on state university campuses.

"The simple truth is we can't keep failing to adequately invest in our university's academic facilities," said Fassi, who holds the student seat on the Board of Governors. "We can't keep asking our students to be the generation that cures cancer if they're learning in buildings that were built before the world eradicated small pox."

SB 1400 faces its next hurdle at 9 a.m. on Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee.