Charlie Crist’s new plan to balance the state budget on the back of college students isn’t exactly receiving rave reviews around the state. Stanley G. Tate, the 80-year old guru of the widely successful Florida Pre-Paid College Program, has pledged to spend $500,000 of his own money fighting the Governor’s proposal that would allow six universities to increase their tuition by up to 15% each year. From the Palm Beach Post:
“It’s going to cost a lot of money to do this, and I’ll spend as much as I need to because this is my legacy,” Tate said about the program, which in 2006 was renamed the Stanley G. Tate Florida Prepaid College Program. “People don’t understand, 20 years from now, what this will mean.”
Florida Prepaid sells contracts that allow parents to lock in today’s college prices for future tuition and fees. The plans can be paid for in one lump sum or monthly installments. More than 881,000 children have had plans purchased for them since the beginning of the program in 1988.
The program, which has assets of $8 billion, traditionally has invested conservatively with the assumption that tuition would increase on average between 6 percent and 6.5 percent annually.
But that restriction, and other factors, have pushed lawmakers to keep tuition low, and Florida university tuition and fees are now thousands of dollars below national averages. With state funding for higher education waning, school presidents have fought harder than ever to gain the ability to increase their own tuition above what is set each year by lawmakers. Current Florida tuition and fees for a 30-credit year range between $3,711 and $3,919, depending on the school.