Florida colleges could end up charging more for science, technology, engineering and math degrees

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - STEM, an acronym for science, technology, engineering and mathematics, is the focus of the state's plan to improve education and the workforce.  The governor and business leaders want more students to pursue STEM degrees, but paying for those degrees may soon cost more.

FSU's President Eric Barron has been telling lawmakers, charging STEM students more could raise money and the quality of higher education. "I think this is a good market based argument without a cost to the state," he said.

The University of Florida's President is echoing Barron's sentiments.  The House Education Committee is taking heed.

"We're not the only state going after STEM.  There is going to be competition for people capable of teaching it, for graduate students participating in it," said St. Augustine Republican St. Rep. Bill Proctor.

Under the plan science and engineering degrees would cost more than English and history degrees, mainly because the equipment is more expensive and hiring the top professors in those fields costs more.

Students at a Martin Luther King rally at the state capitol Monday said raising the cost of those courses would discourage students from pursuing those degrees in Florida.

"I think that really we should be rewarding people entering those types of professions because they have been dominated by non-Americans," said FAMU senior Byron Morrison.

The degree-based tuition plan comes after four straight years of double digit tuition increases and a 17 percent drop in state funding for public universities.

This week presidents of the remaining nine state universities will testify before house and Senate committees about ways to improve higher education in Florida.

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