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USFSM to increase underclassmen, BOG approves funding proposal

USF Sarasota-Manatee can now allow a larger number of freshman and sophomores to enroll, following a decision by the Florida Board of Governors (BOG) on Thursday.

According to the decision, USFSM is now classified as a Type-II campus within the State University System and the previous 25 percent enrollment cap on underclassmen has been removed. According to an article by the Bradenton Herald, officials said the change will be seen most clearly in the spring and fall semesters of next year.

Since 2007, the campus has had more than 1,000 students each year, with 1,162 in the 2013-14 school year. In the 2014-15 year, the campus had 1,107 full-time undergraduate and 92 graduate students. The campus currently offers 23 degree programs and 11 certificate programs.

The reclassification for USFSM follows a 2011 accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, which found the campus able to probably complete degree programs and various student services.

Though state universities must continue waiting for Gov. Rick Scott’s final approval on the state budget, Thursday’s BOG meeting also finalized what is expected to be $400 million in performance-based funding for state universities.

Under the BOG’s final proposal, USF would receive the second-highest amount of funding in the state, second only to the University of Florida. USF is set to receive $58.8 million, with $23.6 million being added from state funds and $35.2 million restored to its budget from its investment in the performance-based funding model.

UF, as the highest-performing school, would receive $30.6 million plus its returned investment funds.

This is the third year in a row USF received a top ranking in performance funding, earning second place last year with $22.2 million, and tying for first with $2.6 million in the first year of the state’s performance-based funding model, which is decided by a series of metrics gauging performance and student success.

Among other metrics, this year USF ranked high with its 75 percent of graduates either employed or continuing their education, a median average wage of $35,200 for graduates within one-year of graduation, an average degree cost of $25,490 and a six-year graduation rate of 66 percent.

Also included in the state budget awaiting Scott’s signature are several projects for USF worth more than $29 million.

These items include $17 million for the university’s new Morsani College of Medicine, which will be built downtown on the corner of Meridian Avenue and Channelside Drive, part of Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik’s billion-dollar plan to reinvigorate the downtown area.

The state budget also includes $12.3 million for completing the construction of USF St. Petersburg’s Kate Tiedemann College of Business, $6 million for the construction of a new Florida Institute of Oceanography (FIO) research vessel and $5 million in recurring funds for the Florida Center for Cybersecurity housed at USF.


-— Staff report