JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - As college students prepare for the fall semester at Florida public universities across the state, they'll need to dig deeper for tuition.
After days of debate, the Florida Board of Governors agreed to large tuition hikes -- although not as big as the universities had requested.
The University of North Florida will charge 13 percent more tuition next year -- not quite the 15 percent they said was needed to replace the millions of dollars in funding cut by the Florida Legislature.
Dominique Spann said she decided to attend UNF because of it was affordable, but is concerned her tuition could skyrocket before she's able to graduate.
"I picked here because of the price, so why are you trying to get 15 percent out of me?" Spann said.
For an in-state undergraduate UNF student now pays about $4,984 per year, they'll pay $647 more next year.
Some argued that Florida's public university system is still a bargain.
"Our students are not paying a whole lot. We still have an entitlement approach here, and we can't get out of the hole, and if we don't do something now, we may not get the opportunity to do it in the future," said John Temple, a member of the Board of Governors.
Other members of the board said that college students shouldn't carry the burden of Florida's budget crunch.
"I don't think that we should be breaking the backs of students to try to improve a situation," said board member Matthew Carter. "That is a longer term solution."
Many students agree that the cost of higher education is getting to be too much to handle during tough economic times.
"It's hard to get scholarships, and with the increase in tuition, I'm going to have to get, like, another job to help pay off that and any other cost, such as living expenses, food expenses," said UNF student Zachary Kelly.
Nine of Florida 11 universities had asked for the maximum 15 percent the Legislature had authorized, but only the University of Central Florida, Florida Atlantic University, Florida International University and New College received that much.
The Board of Governors allow University of West Florida a 14 percent hike, Florida Gulf Coast University was granted a 12 percent increase. The University of Florida was granted the 9 percent increase it had requested, and the 11 percent hike the University of South Florida had requested was approved.
Gov. Rick Scott, who spoke against tuition hikes when he addressed the board earlier in the week earlier in the week, released a statement after Thursday vote expressing his disappointment.
"Tuition rates have risen 71 percent over the past four years and graduates are facing unprecedented levels of debt," Scott said. "We can't continue on this path."