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Board of Governors Looks to Next Year’s Budget

The governing board for Florida's higher education system meets Wednesday and Thursday and top on the agenda is discussing ways to keep the university system running with a flat budget for the next two years.

The body for the 11-institution system lobbied hard for money in the 2009 legislative session. Members told lawmakers that cuts to the higher education budget would be catastrophic for the universities. While deep cuts weren’t made, some schools still had to lay off faculty.

With no signs of the economy improving, the plan for now is to stay the course and not push the Legislature too much, said BOG spokesman Bill Edmonds.

“We're going with a flat budget request,” Edmonds said.

There would be small additions, but those are for already approved programs. The system, which this fall opened two new medical schools at the University of Central Florida and Florida International University, needs to be able to get money for those institutions since students are already enrolled in the medical programs, Edmonds said.

It will also need money for newly completed buildings, which now need dollars to keep the facilities running.

Also on the agenda this week is a proposal that would snip away at the ability of lower achieving students to get into the university system by barring admission for anyone who has under a 2.5 grade point average. The universities will currently consider admission for those students if they produce high SAT scores, but a proposal on the board's agenda would eliminate that.

Edmonds said there have always been exceptions to the rule, but “even then, you have to have some limit and that's what this is about.”

That issue wouldn’t affect many students, however. The majority of students throughout the system have a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Edmonds said about 500 of the 300,000 students in the university system would not have been admitted to their current institutions if the GPA requirement were in place at the time of their admission.

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