Advocacy: Special Report
The Legislature will have no shortage of input from business groups in the 2011 session.
? HIGHER EDUCATION
Private College Funding: The Independent Colleges & Universities of Florida (ICUF), comprising 28 private, non-profit schools, is lobbying the Legislature to maintain funding of the Florida Resident Access Grant, state financial aid available to Florida residents who attend private schools. ICUF President Ed Moore says the grant, currently $2,425 per student, is less expensive for the state than if ICUF students attended state universities.
State Universities: The Florida Board of Governors, which operates the 11-member State University System, is backing several measures.
» Currently, students who earn nine or more credits through accelerated programs such as Advanced Placement classes, are not required to attend classes during the summer term, which is mandatory for other students. The Board of Governors wants to end that exemption because so many students enter the system with nine hours of credit that it's producing a bottleneck.
» The Board of Governors also wants to replenish the University Concurrency Trust Fund, which is intended to help fund infrastructure connected to university building projects. In recent years, the lawmakers have diverted money from the trust fund for other purposes.
FACU: The Florida Association of Colleges and Universities, and umbrella group for the State University System, the Florida College System (former the Florida Community College System) and the Independent Colleges and Universities, is urging the Legislature to:
» Support the Higher Education Coordinating Council, an advisory board created by the Legislature last spring to address issues like university enrollment and new degree programs for the state's universities. At the same time, FACU says the council needs to review the program approval process for new degree programs to ensure there is no "unwarranted duplication."
» Identify a dedicated source of revenue for higher education; provide money for Public Education Capital Outlay, which is used for construction, remodeling, renovation and repair of education facilities; invest in matching gifts programs for the State University System and the Florida College System; explore funding for construction on community/state college system campuses, targeting creation of university centers that encourage partnerships and expand offerings leading to baccalaureate degrees.
» Increase need-based aid.
» Support funding for the Florida Resident Access Grant, which provides $2,425 for Florida students attending private colleges.
» Create a matching funds/investment program to support a statewide initiative that specifically encourages students enrolled in any SACS-accredited college or university in Florida to complete their certificate or degree.
Former Community Colleges: The Florida College System, which includes 28 state colleges, is lobbying for:
» Continued backing for state funding and tuition increases to support rising student enrollment.
» Additional money to expand college facilities.
» Strengthening the transfer of credit between state colleges and Florida's public and private universities.
» Proposals that provide flexibility with certain fees and reporting requirements as ways to "allow colleges to do more with less."