Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ newly unveiled budget proposal does not include tuition increases for students attending public colleges and universities.
“It is imperative for students and families to not face any additional burdens during these times,” the Governor’s budget outline said.
DeSantis on Thursday introduced a $96.6 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2021-22.
Facing lingering economic woes from the COVID-19 pandemic and a budget shortfall, some lawmakers suggested tuition hikes as a means to shore up more funds.
Senate President Wilton Simpson in November described the option as a “viable opportunity,” the Sun Sentinel reported.
Notably, the Governor’s budget outline says tuition increases are prohibited at state schools.
“Florida’s students, families and teachers faced significant disruptions and challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the budget outline reads. “Despite the circumstances, Florida remains committed to providing the best education possible for our students…”
The budget proposal also includes more than $651 million for the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program. The program, funded by the state, provides scholarships based on high school academic achievement.
“Funding ensures the Bright Futures Academic Scholars award will continue to cover 100% of tuition for all semesters, including summer, for all eligible students,” the budget outlines says.
Funding also remains in numerous state-funded scholarship programs including the Florida Student Assistance Grant, Children and Spouses of Deceased or Disabled Veterans, Florida Work Experience, Rosewood Family Scholarships, Florida Farmworker Scholarship Program and Honorably Discharged Graduate Assistance Programs.
Florida, meanwhile, faces a $2 billion budget shortfall.
Lawmakers and the public will have a few days to read over the budget before it gets a deep dive in the Legislature.
Florida experienced strong growth rates in sales tax, doc stamp tax and tourism over the summer, but not enough to offset losses from the first months of the pandemic.
Revenue plunged 6.1% in the 2019-20 fiscal year.