Budget cuts a blow to Fla. education

When it comes to college education, Florida is going in the wrong direction. Thousands of high school students nationwide are dying – figuratively speaking – to go to college in the Sunshine State because of the quality and quantity of its universities, the weather and the women, among many other reasons.

Because of budget cuts that will total more than $140 million in all 11 state universities – the deepest budget cuts in 15 years – fewer students will be admitted and the quality of the education provided will surely drop.

USF has the third-highest projected budget cuts in the state, less than $1 million behind Florida State’s $21 million, according to the St Petersburg Times‘ free publication, tbt*/Tampa Bay Times. The University of Florida is projected to lose the most – $40.3 million.

On top of that $140 million, $10 million is projected to be cut statewide. That is $150 million – a lot of money any way you see it – even for universities.

I know what you are thinking right now: You just read the first few paragraphs and you’re asking yourself, “Why should I care? This just sounds like another boring article about the state of the economy. Give me some Britney news updates!”

There are many reasons you should care:

1) The budget cuts are going to affect your pocket.

You like going to Ybor City on Thursday nights and paying for affordable meal plans? Just wait until tuition prices go up and you have less money to spend.

2) It is going to affect your family and friends. According to tbt*, “the budget cuts could mean that there would be no more guaranteed spots at four-year colleges for graduating community college students, and that all 11 universities would have to ‘align’ their enrollment to the money available, even if it means admitting significantly less students this fall and laying off faculty members in the months to come.”

For example, let’s say your brother, sister or friend gets a 2.9 GPA at Hillsborough Community College in 2009. That GPA is decent and more than enough to graduate with an associate degree, but it may not be enough to get accepted at a Florida four-year school.

Meanwhile, in the rest of the nation, colleges seem to be flourishing.

In a Jan. 24 USA Today article titled “College wealth soaring,” the prestigious national newspaper mentions how “the number of colleges and universities boasting endowments of $1 billion or more climbed by 14 last year to a record 76, nearly doubling the number of such schools five years ago. And as tuition increases continue to outpace inflation, that’s prompting some critics to step up their pressure on colleges to share more of their wealth.”

Harvard, No. 1 on a list of the five schools that earned the most money in endowment funds this fiscal year, has a surplus of $34.6 billion, up 20 percent from last year, according to the article. Four Ivy League schools are in the top five, with endowment funds of more than $15 billion.

Granted, comparing Florida schools to Ivy Leaguers is a bit unfair. Let’s compare them to the University of Texas System, in a state that has roughly the same population, the same number of universities and a comparable number of college students.

Texas has three universities in the top 20 and four overall in the top 65. These are the University of Texas System (4), the Texas A&M University System and Foundations (10), Rice University (19), and Texas Christian University (62).

The state of Florida has no universities in that ranking. You would think that at least UF, ranked the 49th best college in the nation by U.S. News and World Report, would be able to make the big dance, but we don’t even seem to be on the bubble.

What is happening to universities around the nation is a microcosm of what is happening to American society at large. The gap between the rich and the poor keeps getting larger, and as the rich get richer, the poor have to take drastic measures to survive.

USA Today mentioned that there is pressure on colleges to share their wealth, but that wouldn’t be fair.

We live in a capitalistic country, where you have to earn the money you get. What has to change here is the system. We are losing millions of dollars to the war against terrorism that could go toward education. While USF faces a drastic budget cut that will affect students and faculty alike, USF football coach Jim Leavitt gets a 70 percent raise with five years left on his contract, according to the St. Petersburg Times. Martin Bater is a junior majoring in mass communications.