University Presidents Ask Legislators for $118 Million for Higher Education—Pledge No Tuition Increase

SARASOTA (December 5, 2012) – Launching a new initiative in partnership with student government leaders, Florida’s university presidents met at the state Capitol Wednesday to ask for a $118 million investment for the State University System. With that kind of investment, they said they would be able to continue providing quality education without raising tuition by “even one penny.”

The presidents highlighted the University System’s powerful economic impact— nearly $80 billion statewide annually— and its vital role in training Florida’s future workforce. They supported tying the additional state investment to performance goals, such as increased graduation rates.

The presidents’ announcement at the Capitol kicked off the “Aim Higher” initiative, a student-led campaign focused on uniting students and community leaders in supporting more funding for higher education and raising awareness of the universities’ strong returns on public investments.

Although tuition at Florida’s public universities remains among the lowest in the country, students and their families have faced double-digit tuition increases in recent years as universities have coped with severe state budget cuts. Funding to the State University System has been cut nearly 40 percent during the past five years.

A state investment of $118 million would generate the revenue of a 15 percent tuition increase across the System next year.

“Students and their families have invested in our universities more than ever during the past few years to help us maintain a high-quality education,” said Cortez Whatley, president of the Florida Student Association and student body president at the University of Central Florida. “For the sake of our students, our businesses and our communities, we need to keep college education affordable and accessible.”

State funding, which once covered about three-fourths of the cost of a student’s higher education, now pays for less than half at most state universities. “Time and again, our University System has proven its ability to provide some of the greatest returns on investments for the State of Florida,” said State University System Chancellor Frank T. Brogan. “Our students are graduating, getting jobs and helping to grow Florida’s economy. If anyone doubts whether that investment is a good one, just ask our students and families. They’ve been asked to invest more year after year, and they have done so because they know higher education leads to a brighter future.”

Florida’s public universities have a strong track record of spending tax and tuition dollars efficiently. As state funding has shrunk and enrollment has risen, universities have saved millions of dollars through cost-cutting efforts and the elimination or consolidation of academic programs.

Florida’s universities attract more than a billion dollars of research money to the state each year, which helps to find cures for diseases, develop new technologies and prepare students for a variety of jobs and industries.

“Our students, faculty members, staff, community partners and legislators can be confident that our state universities are operating efficiently and with strict accountability,” said Dr. Arthur Guilford, regional chancellor of University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee. “We will continue to provide students with access to a world-class education, a pathway to rewarding careers and the capacity to succeed in the most complex jobs of the future, whatever they may be.”

Watch the press conference here:

In attendance at the Capitol:

Florida A&M University President Larry Robinson

Florida Gulf Coast University Student Body President Peter Cuderman

Florida Gulf Coast University Student Body President’s Chief of Staff Jacob Robinson

Florida International University Student Body President Laura Farinas

Florida State University President Eric Barron

New College of Florida President Donal O’Shea

New College of Florida Student Body President Michael Long

University of Central Florida President John Hitt

University of Central Florida Student Body President and Florida Student Association President Cortez Whatley

University of Florida President Bernie Machen

University of Florida Student Body President T.J. Villamil

University of Florida Student Body President’s Chief of Staff Abby Whiddon

University of North Florida President John Delaney

University of North Florida Student Body President Carlo Fassi    

University of North Florida Student Body Vice President Mike Naughton

University of South Florida President Judy Genshaft

University of South Florida Student Body President Brian Goff

University of West Florida President Judy Bense 


Source: Florida Board of Governors