Lakewood Ranch Herald

New subject at local colleges: Sticker shock

MANATEE — Sticker shock may afflict students registering for college this year since the Florida Legislature okayed tuition increases last spring for state universities and colleges.

“If it is going up, it will be affecting me,” said Steven Soares, 27, of Sarasota, who is taking an anthropology course at the University of South Florida, Sarasota-Manatee campus during the fall semester.

James Hartman, 19, and Alan Brandes, 19, both students at USF’s Tampa campus, were concerned about tuition increases because they had heard that their Bright Futures scholarships, which pay tuition and fees for academically high achievers, are diminishing.

“I’ve heard Bright Futures is not covering as much as before,” said Brandes, a criminology major. “It’s not just tuition, it’s housing, food — everything is going up this year.”

Locally, State College of Florida Manatee-Sarasota raised tuition by 8 percent. Coupled with increased fees, the cost for students paying in-state tuition will go up by 12 percent to $87.88 per credit hour or $2,636,40 per year, according to Kathy Walker, director of publicity and marketing.

She noted that the Legislature capped Bright Future payouts to $78 per credit hour and that students are responsible for making up the difference. But she added that federal Pell grants, which help needy students, have also increased.

The University of South Florida’s tuition went up 8 percent, with another 7 percent increase in its differential fee for all campuses, for a total of 15 percent, said Vickie Chachere, a spokeswoman for the school at the Tampa campus. Costs for undergrads are $94.33 an hour or $3,684 per year, she said. Student fees at the Sarasota-Manatee campus might be different but a spokesman there said those numbers were unavailable Monday.

“All are raising tuition 15 percent total,” said Bill Edmonds, director of communications for the state board of governors, which oversees state universities. “Tuition is in two parts, the universities all took the option. They could raise it anywhere from nothing to no more than 15 percent. They all maxed out.”

He said fees are a different matter.

“You won’t see 15 percent increases in fees,” he said. “Most, if not all of them, have limits as to how fast they can be raised.”

At Sarasota’s Ringling College of Art and Design, tuition went up 5.7 percent to $27,620 annually for full-time students at the private Sarasota college, according to Kurt Wolf, director of financial aid. The college also requires a $350 matriculation fee and a first-year student pays another $735 in core studio program fees per semester, he said.

“We have not heard a huge outcry,” said Ringling’s president, Larry Thompson. “It’s actually less than what we increased last year. It’s still too much but we also increased the amount of student aid we have for students.”

He noted that Ringling is “at the midpoint“ in terms of tuition for private colleges, and that most of them are raising rates 5 or 6 percent.

“It’s obviously different especially in these economic times, but most people see it as a worthwhile investment in terms of the outcomes we have,” he added.

At LECOM Bradenton, tuition went up $800 for in-state students to $26,700, but the graduate medical school claims the second-lowest private medical school tuition in the U.S., according to Michael Polin, a spokesman for the Lakewood Ranch school. Pharmacy school tuition stayed at $19,750, he said.

Tuition at Keiser University, a for-profit school, is going up about 6 percent, to $6,688, plus fees that are increasing from $400 to $480; and at Everglades University, a private nonprofit, it is going up about 5 percent to $5,736 for a full-time student, plus fees that remain at $400 per semester, said Kimberly Dale, regional director of media and public relations.

“With Keiser, our tuition and fees when compared to USF look higher, but compared to another private school, it’s cheaper,” she said. “We’re not subsidized by the state or the federal government.”