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Flagler Rep. Bill Proctor: Public University Tuition Should Go Up by More than 15% A Year

| July 14, 2011

Bill Proctor likes his net worth: $2.56 million.

Bill Proctor likes his net worth: $2.56 million. (Meredith Geddings)

Bill Proctor, the head of the House education committee, is pushing for more discussion about raising university tuition above the capped amount of 15 percent a year.

Proctor, R-St. Augustine, wrote a letter in late June to the Higher Education Coordinating Council asking for its opinion on allowing up to three state universities to make “a major increase in tuition in order that these institutions might attain the national tuition average at an earlier date.”

Proctor’s letter was acknowledged during a council meeting Thursday. State University System Chancellor Frank Brogan said in response that the governing board for the system was examining the issue.

“That is something the Board of Governors has discussed, and continues to discuss as a possibility for moving forward with the legislative process,” Brogan said. Some universities – such as the University of Florida – have been particularly outspoken about the need to dramatically increase tuition by as much as 30 percent in one year.

Proctor chairs the House Education Committee and is Chancellor of Flagler College, a private institution that charges $14,500 a year in tuition alone. His net worth, according to his financial disclosure form, is $2.56 million.

Proctor said in an interview with the News Service of Florida that shrinking state revenues have made universities rely more heavily on tuition dollars. But with a 15 percent cap in place, universities face a long slog to get to the national average.

Without bigger tuition increases, Florida risks losing ground in higher education, with faculty abandoning state universities for higher-paid positions elsewhere in the country, Proctor said.

“What is our choice? Do we raise tuition or do we stay at a lower number and say, well, we may lose some very good people,” Proctor said. “Once you get up to a certain plane, if you drop back…it takes a long time to rebuild.”

But along with tuition increases comes concern that the middle class is being left behind, as more of the financial aid focus stays on need-based aid and Bright Futures merit-based scholarships are being cut.

Four years ago, the Florida Legislature approved a policy of allowing universities to increase tuition only up to 15 percent for in-state undergraduate students each year. The idea was to give universities time to catch up to the national average. But Proctor says even then he believes 15 percent wasn’t a high enough yearly increase.

A recent report by the State University System showed that if universities raised tuition by 15 percent every year, and the national average went up by about 7 percent each year, it would take about 10 years to catch up.

Even though all Florida universities have increased tuition by a total of 15 percent in recent years, what students end up paying at each university varies. That’s because universities charge different fees, which can add hundreds of dollars to a student’s tuition bill for things like campus maintenance and technology upgrades.

A News Service of Florida review shows that a full-time undergraduate, in-state university student would pay the least to attend Florida A&M University at $5,177 next year. But that same full-time student attending New College, a Sarasota-based liberal arts college, pays $6,060, a difference of nearly $900 a year.

A spokeswoman for New College said its tuition is higher than other state universities because full-time students are taking more credit hours, 16 hours as opposed to the usual 15, plus four credit hours over a winter mini-term.

With fees factored in, most universities raised the total amount students will pay next academic year by less than 15 percent. Florida Gulf Coast University Director of Admissions Marc Laviolette said most students will pay $5,532 in tuition and fees next year, an 11 percent increase over the year before.

The average tuition and fee bill for a full-time student across all Florida universities next academic year comes to $5,623, an increase of $606 from the year before. Though next year’s national average for tuition and fees is not released yet, data from 2010-11 shows that even with tuition hikes, Florida still lags behind by about $2,000 a year.

“Some states have been hit hard and others not hit as hard as we have, which put them in a more competitive position,” Proctor said.

–Lilly Rockwell, News Service of Florida, and FlaglerLive

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5 Responses for “Flagler Rep. Bill Proctor: Public University Tuition Should Go Up by More than 15% A Year”

  1. John Boy says:

    Proctor whole life has been one of milking the system, has he ever worked a day of his life? He has been taking from the public his entire life, maybe it’s time that he ends this career. Oh forget that, even in retirement he continues to milk the system. Guess we don’t end this shame until he drops dead, not a bad idea.

  2. The Truth says:

    Typical Republican attitude – milk the middle class and protect the rich. Anyone who doesn’t see this is blind.

  3. Layla says:

    Bill Proctor not only serves as our elected State Representative but is also the Chancellor of Flagler College. He has spend his whole life in education.

    Is that qualified enough for you? We’re being milked by stupidity and that is all.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Layla Mr. Proctor sure is not lobbying that well for higher education affordability for all, but instead to secure the profitability of those colleges. I don’t doubt of his experience of many years. He does it as told so Florida institutions can catch up with the rates charged by Florida Universities counterparts. How come we are on a recession but colleges increase their fees? Is that supposed to help the strained pockets of those students? Or is one more step advocating for college education for the wealthy only?

  5. Layla says:

    Do you really think that profit is his only motive? How can you say that your state teachers deserve to be paid more but not allow our public institutions to raise their rates to PAY those salaries? I don’t think there are many colleges and universities, if any, turning a profit these days. These are public institutions. I think every dime they bring in is spoken for in salaries and other fees to keep them competitive.

    Might be a good time to look up the history of tuition hikes. As long as they are done in line with the economy, they have to be done. The only other alternative is to reduce the number of students.

    If you think profit is his only motive, why not contact him and ask him? I have always found this man to be an advocate of the people of Florida. I still believe that.

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