Gov. Ron DeSantis’ $91.4 billion fiscal 2021 budget request proposes nearly $27 billion in education spending, including $6.427 billion for higher education, nearly $50 million more than this year’s plan.
The governor’s proposed budget allocates $1.3 billion for Florida’s 28 colleges, an increase of $22.4 million, and $2.7 billion for the state’s 12 universities, an increase of $23.8 million.
DeSantis’ request includes performance-based funding (PBF) stipulations and does not raise tuitions.
Universities submitted fiscal 2021 budget requests to the State University System Board of Governors (BOG) earlier this year. The board adopted its proposed budget in August and sent it to DeSantis in October.
But after receiving input from all 12 schools during Oct. 3 and Nov. 19 meetings called to consider supplemental requests, the BOG Friday approved $252 million in additional requests.
The board will formally submit the additional requests to DeSantis in December. The governor can incorporate or omit them from his overall budget request that lawmakers will begin officially plodding through when the Legislature’s 60-day 2020 session begins on Jan. 14.
The supplements “will provide flexibility for the BOG and individual university boards of trustees to jointly manage the system to meet the critical needs of the state, achieve the statewide goals and objectives of the updated State University System (SUS) Strategic Plan, and demonstrate accountability and transparency,” according to BOG.
The 17-member BOG oversees the state’s 12 universities which, with 341,000 students, is the nation’s second-largest public university system.
BOG approved the supplemental requests because they meet its newly adopted "Pillars of Excellence" criteria, “which consists of Performance Funding, Preeminence, and a new concept known as Universities of Distinction, (that) is expected to enhance the State University System’s upward trajectory and continue raising the national profile of Florida.”
Approved requests include:
University of Florida: $55.3 million to hire faculty to reduce student-to-faculty ratio to 16:1, garner grants of $1 billion or more annually and grow the university technology transfer operation.
“The funds that the BOG is recommending today are a critical next step if UF is to sustain success among the top 10 public universities and compete more aggressively to join the top 5,” UF said.
Florida State University: $43.4 million to hire faculty and retain current STEM faculty “to prevent jeopardizing FSU’s position in national rankings and diminishing the momentum of the state of Florida and the university in delivering on the target of having two Florida universities in the top 10 nationally.”
University of South Florida: $33.8 million to hire 375 faculty and 61 support technicians “to allow USF to extend its trajectory and achieve its goals of becoming a Top-25 research university and gain eligibility for Association of American Universities (AAU) membership.”
University of Central Florida: $25.8 million to hire 44 faculty, 11 support positions, “while still investing in bridge programs, and providing OPS (Other Personnel Services – work/study) student funds.”
Florida International University: $21.5 million in PBF for student success and faculty excellence initiatives, contributing toward the system’s overall success and No. 1 ranking. The university gained 11 points over the prior year’s PBF cycle.
Florida Atlantic University: $16.7 million for an Applied A.I. & Big Data Analytics program.
University of North Florida: $16.7 million for the UNF Medical Nexus program, including $2.78 million in scholarships, expansion of nursing/physical therapy simulation labs, and to lease space for a Palm Coast “teaching site” among other expenditures
University of West Florida: $12.8 million, to include $4 million in PBF for its “A Cyber Coast for Florida’s Future” initiative.
Florida Gulf Coast University: $12.1 million with $8 million to fully restore ‘Water School’ and the remainder to meet PBF standards.
Florida A&M University: $9.7 million for additional faculty , 45 Graduate Fellowships, community engagement and ‘Talent Pipeline Scholars program.’
New College of Florida: $2.2 million to grow enrollment to 1,200 students, improve four-year graduation rate beyond 80 percent and strengthen “links to the community, employers, and local educational, research, cultural, and medical institutions will allow NCF to not only be recognized among the top 20 liberal arts colleges, but to become the #1 public liberal arts college in the country.”
Florida Polytechnic University: $2 million “to support growth in the quality and number of the students” and “to improve student success services.”