Thursday, April 21, 2022 / by Jill Perry-Zaborowski
New law lets out-of-state grandkids save big by attending Florida’s public universities
For the first time this fall, hundreds of high-performing students who live outside of Florida only will need to pay in-state tuition and fees to attend universities, saving thousands of dollars.
It’s all thanks to a new Florida law, taking effect in August, that lets them pay lower prices as a result of their grandparents living in Florida. The plan has proven so popular that most, if not all, the universities say they already have all their allotted openings filled up for the coming year. So anyone applying now may face a wait list.
- At Florida State University in Tallahassee, the school used up all of its 55 grandparent waivers, “and we have a running waitlist of 100 [plus] students,” according to spokesman Bill Wellock.
- The University of Florida has been allotted 60 waivers, which have all been awarded, and there are 143 on the waitlist.
- The University of Central Florida in Orlando has allocated all of its 49 grandparent waivers for the incoming first-year class, and there’s a waiting list there, too, of five students, according to a spokeswoman.
“Take advantage of that,” Gov. Ron DeSantis urged at a news conference Tuesday.
Enacting a new law
House Bill 1261, approved by the Legislature last year, is dubbed the “grandparent tuition waiver,” intended to attract high-performing students to the Sunshine State.
A “grandparent” is defined as a person who has a legal relationship to a student’s parent as the natural or adoptive parent or legal guardian of the student’s parent. The fee waivers are capped statewide to 350 students a year, according to the bill.
It can lead to thousands of dollars in savings for out-of-state students. For example, in-state tuition for the University of Florida is $6,380, when out-of-state students would typically need to tack on an additional $22,278 for tuition and fees. At the University of South Florida in Tampa, in-state tuition and fees is $6,410 and out-of-state tuition and fees is $17,324.
Getting good scores
The bill allows out-of-state students scoring in the 89th percentile or higher on the ACT or SAT exams enroll as full-time students at Florida universities and pay cheaper in-state tuition.
That translates to an SAT combined score of 1330 or greater; or an ACT composite score of 29, according to the University of South Florida in Tampa, which reported an allotment of 34 grandparent waivers for the 2022-23 incoming first-year class.
Chris Sprowls, the speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, touted the opportunity on Tuesday.
“If you’re a student in another state and you’re a high-performing student, we want you to come, but we especially want you to come and be affordable if you have a grandparent that is a Floridian.”
Lisa J. Huriash can be reached at email@example.com or 954-572-2008 or Twitter @LisaHuriash