MIAMI (CBSMiami) -- Governor Rick Scott was in Miami Tuesday as part of his weeklong College Affordability Tour.
Gov. Scott spoke at a Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce meeting at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables.
According to a news release, the tour "highlights efforts to reverse the burdensome tuition increases signed into law by Charlie Crist."
Scott discussed his plans to help keep college affordable for all Florida students as well as his efforts to reduce the cost of Florida prepaid savings plans, providing in-state tuition for veterans, and working with Florida state college to offer $10,000 degrees in important fields.
He also touted his signing of House Bill 851 which lowers tuition for all Florida students including undocumented students who have been attending school in Florida for at least three years prior to graduation.
"Since it's only me, my mom and my sister right now, it would've been hard for me to afford it so I could maybe do one class at a time and instead of four years to graduate it would take me more than five years, but now I will be able to afford it," explained recent Homestead Senior High graduate Diego Ramirez. Ramirez was born in Mexico City and is proud to know that if he works hard, he'll be able to afford to go to college thanks to HB 851. It's legislation that "dreamers" across South Florida have been hoping for because it allows students living in the country illegally to qualify for in-state tuition rates.
Ramirez is thrilled about the legislation. "I'll be the first one in my family to go to college. My older siblings couldn't because they couldn't afford it."
"What we are doing is cleaning up Charlie Crist's mess. Charlie Crist when he was Governor raised tuition every year including passing legislation that allowed tuition to go up 15-percent a year."
Although Governor Scott admits college affordability in general isn't necessarily a partisan issue, he believes there is a right and wrong way to go about it.
"The way to do it is lower the cost of college, don't deal with the debt side of it we don't want more people incurring debt," said Gov. Scott.
Putting all politics aside, Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said he is glad this type of legislation is now in place even though it wasn't when he was in school.
"I remember back in the day having to pay out-of-state tuition even though I was working and living in South Florida, so it's taken about thirty years but let's not think about the past but opportunities of the future."
As Rick Scott referred to his effort as "cleaning up Charlie Crist's mess," the Crist campaign released this statement, "Rick Scott has slashed billions from education and made it harder for middle-class Floridians to afford college. While yesterday was a good day for the children of immigrants, I'm sure Floridians are happy that there is an election coming up, otherwise Rick Scott would have continued his cuts to education and his assault on Bright Futures scholarships."
Bright Futures, the merit-based college scholarship meant to keep our best and brightest students in-state, had its funding cut to to $266 million, down from $309 million when Rick Scott signed Florida's new budget.
As a result, the number of new Bright Futures scholarship students will be cut almost in half – from 41,107 last fall to 21,340 this fall.
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