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College expected to cost you more if budget passes today

Tampa, Florida -- The Legislature has until Friday afternoon to make its cuts to colleges and universities official.

It's also the deadline to cement the compromise that keeps cuts to the University of South Florida in line with cuts to the rest of Florida's universities.

Tuition paid by students (and their moms and dads) across the state will likely go up for a seventh year in a row because of the cuts in this budget.

The state that already spends the least per person on higher education is set to slash that spending even more -- by $300 million. USF's share is almost $40 million.

Of course, it could have been much worse. State Senate budget chair JD Alexander (R-Lake Wales) wanted to yank 58 percent of USF's funding.

After the #SaveUSF campaign we proudly pushed here at 10 News, Alexander backed down on that move. But he will still get his way on a different front if another bill passes as expected today.

That's because Florida -- the state that apparently can't even afford the universities we already have -- is set to create a 12th state school: Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland.

The school has no students and no teachers, and a new study shows it could take six years to get accredited.

The proposals seem to run counter to Governor Rick Scott's stance as a governor who supports education, but he may get these proposals on his desk before Friday is over.

By law, the Legislature has to pass a budget; if they don't, a special session will get them all back in Tallahassee to try again.

Governor Scott on Thursday still wouldn't give a clear signal on whether he'll veto the plan to create the new university.

"I'm gonna listen to what they say," Scott told reporters. "I sat down with JD Alexander the other day, and he was telling me his reasons why he thinks it ought to happen."

The new budget includes an increase for younger students. K-12 schools would see an increase of around $800 million in their budgets, but that still doesn't make up for the $1.3 billion that was cut last year.

There's also no money in this budget to help school districts pay for public school construction or maintenance.

The two issues -- education funding and the creation of Florida Polytechnic -- are in separate bills, so the Legislature or the governor could decide to say no to one or both of them Friday.


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