University Presidents Unite

USF President Genshaft joins others in pledging not to raise tuition if legislators support $118 million investment in higher education.

From USF News

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Dec. 5, 2012) – Launching a new initiative in partnership with student government leaders, Florida’s state university presidents united Wednesday to ask for a $118 million state investment in their institutions that would allow universities to freeze tuition at current rates. With that investment, the university presidents said they would not raise tuition by “even one penny.”

University of South Florida President Judy Genshaft was among those highlighting their institutions’ powerful annual economic impact – nearly $80 billion systemwide – and their vital roles in training Florida’s future workforce. The presidents also 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 program focused on uniting students and community leaders behind restored funding for higher education and raising awareness of the strong return on public investments in the state’s public universities.

“Our economic future depends on a strong educational system and new graduates prepared to compete in the global economy,” said Genshaft.  “Florida’s families have stepped up to pay a greater share of the cost of a university education for themselves and their children, but it cannot be forgotten that an investment in higher education benefits all Floridians.”

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. The State University System of Florida’s state funding has been cut almost 40 percent during the past five years.

A state investment of $118 million would be the equivalent of the revenue generated by a 15 percent tuition increase at each of the state universities next year. State funding, which once covered about three-fourths of the cost of a student’s higher education, now pays for less than half of the cost at most state universities.

Florida’s public universities have eliminated and consolidated programs and saved millions of dollars through energy efficiency and other cost-cutting measures.

“Florida’s universities have worked hard to balance affordability, access and quality,” Genshaft said. “We are proud of having built a state university system that provides an excellent education at some of the lowest tuition rates in the nation. If we are to continue moving forward as a state, Florida’s universities must be competitive on a national and international level, providing our students with the education they need and the scientific and technological advances our communities deserve.”

Click here to watch President Genshaft discuss the importance of funding Florida’s State Universities.