University system looks for funding boost

college enrollment

The Florida Board of Governors is ready to consider a $5.2 billion budget request for the state university system for next year, representing a 3.6 percent increase in spending and including $75 million in additional state performance funding.

The proposal, which will be considered by the university-system board during a two-day meeting that begins Wednesday at New College of Florida, would increase state funding for the system by $183 million in the 2019-2020 budget year.

Overall, it would include $3.2 billion in state funding, along with $1.96 billion in tuition and fees, although there would not be a tuition increase.

The proposal would increase performance funding for the 12 universities to $655 million next budget year, up from $560 million this year. The overall $95 million increase would be a combination of money from the state and from the institutions.

The budget would include $327.3 million in state performance funds, including the $75 million increase, along with $327.3 million in performance funds from the institutions.

The funding is distributed to the universities each year based on 10 measurements of performance by each of the institutions, including graduation rates, salaries of recent graduates, retention of students and student costs.

New metrics include holding the 12 schools in the system to a four-year graduation rate and rewarding schools that serve large numbers of economically disadvantaged students, reflected by those receiving federal Pell grants.

The budget proposal would also increase funding for the World Class Faculty and Scholar Program by $20 million, up from the current $91 million. The program is designed to help universities attract top-level faculty and researchers.

The Board of Governors will also consider $30 million for a newly authorized initiative that is designed to identify and reward academic programs throughout the system that “reflect national excellence.”

The board is developing criteria to identify those programs and the proposal envisions a two-year process, where $30 million would be distributed in the first year, followed by another $30 million in the second year.

The board’s proposal includes some $28 million in projects related to individual schools, including $6.4 million for the Florida A&M University-Florida State University College of Engineering and $12.4 million for Florida Gulf Coast University as part of a three-year plan to boost academic programs and research opportunities at the school.

Those projects are only part of the $324.5 million in proposals advanced by the 12 schools for the 2019-2020 fiscal year, which begins in July.

If approved this week by the Board of Governors, the $5.2 billion proposal will be forwarded to the state’s new Governor, who will take office in January, and the Legislature, which will begin its 2019 Legislative Session in March.

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