Thursday, March 8, 2012

Florida colleges and universities offer less for more money

The Miami Herald [tries] to report: The new reality at the 11 Florida public universities is pay more, get less.

In the past six years, tuition prices have increased steadily.

This year, an additional 15% increase is likely, and a bill making its way through the Legislature could allow certain top universities to charge even more in years to come — so-called market-rate tuition.

State leaders justify the increases by pointing out how cheap Florida’s higher education is compared to other states. At an average of $184.36 per credit hour, Florida ranks 45th out of 50 states in tuition costs.

But behind that argument is a fundamental problem: While prices at universities have gone up, state support has dwindled. The extra tuition money is not filling the gap. That means students are paying more than ever and getting larger classes, fewer professors and fewer course offerings.

And it’s not just Florida. All across the country, university systems are moving away from being state-supported and more toward being state-assisted, with tuition dollars used for the difference.

State funding in Florida used to cover about 75% of a student’s higher-education costs. Now it’s more like 50%, with the students picking up the other half.

That’s still a lot better than in other states. Students in Vermont and New Hampshire, for instance, pay more like 80% of their college costs, according to the Delta Project on Postsecondary Education Costs. Fifty percent is actually close to the national average.

That doesn’t mean anybody’s happy about it.

More at the Miami Herald.

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