Florida A&M University is one of three institutions in the State University System of Florida that was allocated a total of $0 from the state based on Florida’s performance based funding metrics.
As reported by the Board of Governors’ budget and finance committee, the state invested a total of $265 million for the 2018-2019 school year, the most money that it has appropriated since the performance based metric system was implemented four years ago. This is the second year in a row that FAMU has not received any state funds from this system.
University President Larry Robinson issued a statement after presenting the university’s accountability plan to the Board of Governors on Wednesday, saying that it will be the administration's focus over the next year.
“It allows us to focus on getting the work done primarily focused upon student success,” Robison said. “As you’ve heard, we’re going to have to raise a lot of money to support our students because this issue of them assuming more debt is a major concern to us.”
The top three performing schools are University of Florida, Florida international University, and Florida State University which were awarded over $57 million, almost $40 million, and over $51.6 million respectively.
FAMU, New College of Florida, and University of North Florida were not allotted any of the funds for placing in the bottom three scoring schools. Robinson released a statement late Wednesday addressing the university's performance results.
“The positive news is that FAMU achieved its highest score since the SUS [State University System] implemented the model,” Robinson’s statement read. “Despite the improvement in several key metrics, FAMU’s score was not sufficient to receive additional performance funding, but it was well above the level required to retain approximately $14 million in base funding.”
The base funding refers to the portion of institutional budget each university contributes to be allocated based on performance. Universities that scored 51 points or higher receive their full institutional funding restored.
State funding was previously based on enrollment, but after the recession the Florida Board of Governors implemented this performance based system in 2014 where colleges are scored on a 10 metric system.
Some of the metrics that the 11 universities are rated on include their four-year graduation rate, percentage of bachelor's degrees awarded without excess hours, and the median wages of graduates employed full time one year after graduation.
There is much debate on whether or not the metric system is fairly used to compare schools that serve student populations of different socioeconomic backgrounds.
Fourth year English education major Zedrina Jackson says that her academic trajectory has been affected as a result of inadequate funds.
“The lack of funding to our university is the cause of me being forced to stay an extra year because there are not enough professors to teach both semesters. We have no choice in the end but to wait,” Jackson said. “It’s not that we aren’t trying to graduate in four years, we simply don’t have the resources to truly be successful.”
Recently the graduation rate metric was changed from 6 years to 4 years. FAMU was barely meeting the 6-year graduation rate standard from before. FAMU ranked lowest on the 9th metric, which calculates the percentage of bachelor's degrees awarded without excess hours. All other colleges scored 72 percent or higher and FAMU is at 41 percent.
“As we require them to take on more hours to finish in four, our students and their families don’t have the luxury of just writing another check,” Robinson said. “It means taking out another loan. As much as we advise them otherwise, the financial reality is that they just don’t have it. So we’re going to have to make up that difference.”
The Florida Board of Governors members have said they are pleased with this system, saying that they’ve seen general improvements.
Gov. Rick Scott released a statement on the outcome of the performance based funding allocations.
“Florida’s universities continue to deliver results for our students,” Scott said. “I am proud that we have been able to hold the line on tuition in our state while still being able to make historic investments. We will never stop working to make Florida the best state in the nation for higher education.”