October 24, 2019

Florida’s Higher Education Cuts Harm Students Who Already Face the Greatest Barriers

Despite funding increases in recent years, state spending per student remains below pre-recession levels

ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida is among 41 states that cut higher education funding over the last decade, according to a new report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP). Florida’s funding cuts disproportionately impact students who already face the greatest economic and racial barriers to higher education.

In 2018, state lawmakers invested 13.5 percent less per student — $1,306 — than they did in 2008, adjusting for inflation. During that same time period, tuition at Florida’s public, four-year colleges increased by 59.9 percent, or $2,382.

Higher tuition prices can dissuade students from enrolling in college, even if the net price (including aid) doesn’t rise. Tuition increases also reduce campus diversity, especially among students of color and those from households with low incomes.  

In 2017, according to CBPP, the average net price of attendance at Florida’s public, four-year colleges represented:

• 20 percent of median household income;

• 18 percent of white median household income;

• 26 percent of Black median household income; and

• 22 percent of Hispanic median household income.

“State lawmakers must ensure that post-secondary education is accessible and affordable for all students,” said Sadaf Knight, CEO of Florida Policy Institute (FPI). “Investment in quality higher education should be a priority for the Florida Legislature as we move closer to the 2020 session.”

As noted in a recent FPI blog post, one step Florida lawmakers could take to increase the skills and diversity of its workforce, and dramatically improve the future of its children and communities, is to allow students, regardless of immigration status, to have access to state financial aid. Florida is one of 21 states that adopted “tuition-equity” laws, allowing for in-state tuition for immigrant students without documentation. However, these students still face financial barriers to higher education.

FPI is an independent, nonpartisan and nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing state policies and budgets that improve the economic mobility and quality of life for all Floridians.

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