TALLAHASSEE (CBS4) - Students, get ready to shell out more for a college education in the state of Florida.
For the third consecutive year, the price of undergraduate tuition will go up by 15 percent, according to The News Service of Florida.
All but one member of the State University System governing board approved a 7 percent increase. That's increase is on top of the 8 percent approved by the state Legislature earlier.
The tuition hike comes at a time when financial aid programs, like the state's Bright Futures scholarship, are being cut.
Board members are trying to determine how the tuition increases impact middle class students who do not qualify for financial aid, but may not be able to keep up with the price hikes.
"As tuition continues to increase, as Bright Futures continues to be cut…it is creating more and more of a challenge and we need to take a look at whether or not we broaden access to financial aid," said Tico Perez, a Board of Governors member and the chair of the board's Budget and Finance Committee.
Universities presidents argue that the increases aren't unreasonable, being that students Florida pay far less than other states. The College Board ranks the Sunshine State 48th in the cost of tuition and fees.
Presidents say due to severe cuts in state funding, the schools would have to fire faculty, increase class sizes, and end some programs and courses.
The increases may become a regular occurrence.
University presidents told the board that without a significant boost to the economy, tuition increases of at least 15 percent will continue every year. By law, 15 percent is the most highest increase schools can impose in a given year.
Even then, it would take 10 years to catch up to the national average.
"It creates a bit of a challenge to catch up to the national average," Perez said. But he added that meeting the average is "not the goal" and is simply a "measuring device."
(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.)
for more features.