Aided by a statewide scholarship program the University of Central Florida is set to receive $36.7 million in state performance funding this year, an award that is based on factors such as retention rates, graduates’ salaries and net tuition and fees.
UCF’s allocation was the third-highest among the state’s 12 public universities, behind the University of Florida and Florida State University.
UF is in line for $47.3 million, while Florida State expects $42 million. UCF’s allotment was down slightly from last year, when the school was awarded $37.5 million.
But the university fared better on the state’s performance metrics, as did nine of the 12 state universities. All of the institutions received a slice of the state funding this year, a change from last year when three schools received nothing.
The Board of Governors, which oversees the state university system, discussed the institutions’ performance earlier this week during a meeting in Tampa.
“We’ve just seen significant improvements across the board and more importantly, improvements that directly our students and that’s the key,” Vice Chairman Sydney Kitson said.
All of the schools were buoyed by lower net-tuition bills, thanks to more generous Bright Futures scholarships. Since 2017, the top award — which is based on grades, college entrance exam scores and community service— has covered full tuition and fees at state colleges and universities.
“I think the state of Florida is focused on keeping the cost of the degree as low as possible, to have our graduates entering the work force with as little debt as possible, and preferably none so it’s really been remarkable,” Kitson said.
At UCF, the net cost of tuition of fees based on 120 credit hours, or eight full-time semesters, was $12,070, down 22 percent from the previous year. About 75 percent of the students in the school’s 2018 freshman class received a Bright Futures award — either the top award or the second-tier one, which covers 75 percent of tuition and fees.
But legislators agreed earlier this year to make it harder to earn Bright Futures scholarships by increasing the required test scores, a change that is likely to affect black students disproportionately. That bill, SB 190, is awaiting the governor’s signature.
In addition to tuition, UCF improved in several other areas, including increasing its percentage of undergraduate students receiving Pell grants, which are federal awards available to low-income students; raising the percentage of bachelors degrees awarded without excess credit hours and improving the four-year graduation rate.
This is the sixth year Florida has distributed performance-based funding to its universities. In addition to receiving additional money, institutions that don’t perform well on the state’s measures can lose funding, but that didn’t happen to any of the schools this year.