College tuition spikes nationwide putting pressure on families, including in Florida

Image used from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report. Credit:

Average tuition and fees at four-year public colleges and universities in Florida have increased by nearly 60 percent over the last decade, with many families struggling to cover the rising costs, a recent report says.

Average tuition and fees were $4,003 in 2008, but spiked to $6,363 in 2018, according to the nonpartisan organization Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

In fact, Florida is one of only a dozen states in the country where average tuition and fees have risen by more than 50 percent since the Great Recession in 2008, the report states.

(The report excluded Illinois from its findings because the state’s data was not yet available.)

But, for context, Florida’s in-state average tuition and fees for public four-year colleges and universities are second-lowest in the nation, according to the nonprofit College Board, best known for its college entrance exams and Advancement Placement tests.

The College Board data shows that Florida’s figure of $6,363 for the 2017-2018 school year is second only to Wyoming, which had the lowest average tuition and fees – $5,220. Vermont and New Hampshire have the highest average tuition and fees, at about $16,000.

The cost of college is one of the highest priorities for young Florida voters ahead of the Nov. 6 midterm election, according to the progressive nonprofit NextGen America. The organization opened a chapter in Florida last September with a $3.5 million grant from American billionaire Tom Steyer who founded the national organization.

NextGen concentrates its efforts on registering young people to vote and has since registered over 40,000 young Floridians to vote ahead of the Nov. 6 election.

“Rising college costs place a particularly heavy burden on households of color, which often face additional barriers to employment and to better-paying jobs,” the policy center report says. “Higher costs jeopardize not only the prospects of those individual students but also the outlook for whole communities and states, which are increasingly reliant on highly educated workforces to grow and thrive.”

In addition, “The promise to past generations of students in America has been that if you work hard and strive, public colleges and universities will serve as an avenue to greater economic opportunity and upward mobility,” the report says.

“For today’s students – a cohort more racially and economically diverse than any before it – that promise is fading.”

CD Davidson-Hiers
CD Davidson-Hiers is a 2017 summa cum laude graduate of Florida State University with a degree in Creative Writing and French. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Golden Key honors societies, and has received multiple writing awards for fiction, nonfiction and poetry. Prior to joining the Florida Phoenix, CD worked at the Tallahassee Democrat and has bylines in Tallahassee Magazine. She is a native of Pensacola and currently lives in Tallahassee with her tabby cat, Faulkner.


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