One of the issues the legislature will take up in this year's session is Performance Based Funding for Florida's Universities. And, if implemented, the system could cost the University of West Florida a lot of money.
Dr. Judy Bense, the President of the University of West Florida held a town hall meeting at the University Commons Tuesday morning to outline what the state's performance based funding system could mean to UWF. All of the universities in the state system are graded on ten different areas. While UWF did well in some, they fell short in others, earning zero points in first time college student retention, academic progress and six-year graduation rates.
UWF's final score was a 21. That is the lowest of all state universities. If the system is approved by the legislature and signed by Governor Scott, all schools under a 26 will lose one percent in funding in the next school year. For UWF that's comes to over $600,000. Two other universities would lose money under this measure, New College of Florida and Florida Atlantic University. Dr. Bense, speaking to a crowd of teachers students and other university employees said the money lost will not mean jobs lost.
And as she spoke it was clear she fully expects some form of performance based funding to become law this year.
Bense outlined steps that school must take to raise their scores. She put a special emphasis on retaining first year college students. Professors and counselors will be making sure struggling students are given help quickly, before they get frustrated and drop out. Students who did not return for the fall semester will be contacted and encouraged to return next fall. And changes will be made in who gets financial aid, making sure solid students will get the help they need complete their studies, not just the ones on the upper and lower levels of academic achievement.
UWF will also look to improve its 6-year graduation rate. Right now there are 70 seniors at that level but only 23 have applied for graduation. They will be working with the remaining students in that group of 70 find make sure they have what they need to graduate on time.
Given that the measure has to go through both houses of the legislature and then be signed by the governor, Bense says the final cost to UWF is still an unknown. She expects any final bill to be signed by Governor Scott by Memorial Day.
View the slides Dr. Bense used for her presentation which explain the metrics more in depth.