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Scott signs college affordability bill at FAU

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Posted at 5:14 AM, May 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-23 17:51:10-04

It’s that time of year, thousands of students get their college diploma, and a big bill they'll have to pay off.

The bill may not be as big for future Florida graduates and their parents thanks to a new bill Governor Rick Scott signed into law Monday.

Timmy Oliphant looks at every option that can save him a few bucks

He's a junior at Florida Atlantic University. He's paying for part of tuition on his own and he doesn't want to take out a loan.

“Not yet, hopefully I won't have to,” Oliphant said.

In a ceremonial bill signing at FAU’s Boca Raton campus, Scott signed the Education Access and Affordability bill (HB7019) into law.

It should help students like Oliphant from going into debt.

Scott said money shouldn't block someone from going to college.

This law keeps the price of tuition down by legally requiring the Board of Governors to come up with ways to promote college affordability and submit annual reports on college affordability.

“It doesn’t matter where you are in the state, you have a shot at a great education. It shouldn’t matter what family you came from. You live in this great state, and you have an opportunity," said Scott.

Schools will still be able to raise tuition, but the law requires them to give more notice before hearings on tuition increases.

Currently, undergraduate tuition for a 9-month school year at FAU costs $5,432.

One target for savings is college textbooks. The new law aims to give students a better idea of how much their textbooks and instructional materials will cost 45 days before their courses begin.

“It's pretty frustrating especially because most of the books are expensive,” said Oliphant. He said his chemistry class this summer required three textbooks, the most expensive of which was $180.

“The number one concern is always cost,” explained Helene Kessler. She is a college and career advisor at Boca Raton Community High School.

She said Florida's state schools are reasonable, compared to schools in other states.

She thinks the new push to make college more affordable will help families avoid high interest college loans.

“We have plenty of really fine colleges where students can graduate with little or no debt,” Kessler said.

Oliphant said any help this law can provide makes a big difference for him and his classmates.

Scott said making college affordable is only the first step.  He pointed out his goal is to create jobs to help graduates launch careers in Florida.