Update from Casey Welch, External & Governmental Affairs

HB 5201 on Postsecondary Education Funding, as approved by the Governor, will take effect July 1st.  The Bill amongst many things:

  • Establishes the Florida Virtual Campus to provide access to online student and library support services, to serve as a statewide resource and clearinghouse for postsecondary education distance learning courses and degree programs and to increase student access and completion of degrees.
  • Establishes a Degree Completion Pilot Program to recruit, recover, and retain adult learners and assist them in completing degrees aligned to high-wage, high-skill, and workforce needs.
  • Increases the limit of the Capital Improvement Fee from 10% to 20% of tuition for Florida colleges, and for state universities indexes the Capital Improvement Fee to 10% of tuition, but limits increases to no more than $2 per credit hour per year.
  • Increases the surcharge for excess credit hours.

HB 7135 on Postsecondary Education, as approved by the Governor, will take effect July 1st.  Specifically, this bill requires changes in educational reporting to better inform students and their parents of the employment and economic outcomes for certificates and degrees earned at Florida College System institutions and state universities. The bill requires:

  • The Department of Economic Opportunity to prepare an economic security report on the employment and earnings of graduates of a degree or certificate program at a public postsecondary educational institution;
  • The State Board of Education, in consultation with the Board of Governors and the Department of Economic Opportunity to adopt a unified state plan for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) to improve K-20 STEM education and prepare students for high-skill, high-wage, and high-demand employment in STEM and STEM-related fields.
  • The bill authorizes performance funding for state universities that are most successful in educating students who earn degrees in, and become employed in, technology fields. Up to $15 million is authorized, as appropriated for that purpose.
  • The bill requires the State Board of Education and the Board of Governors to identify performance metrics for Florida College System institutions and state universities, respectively. The metrics must include student retention, graduation, employment, licensure passage, excess hours, student loan burden and default rates, faculty awards, and other measures.

Regarding the general education requirements for an associate or baccalaureate degree, the bill:

  • Reduces the general education course requirements from 36 semester credit hours to 30 semester credit hours, beginning with students initially entering a Florida College System institution in 2014-2015;
  • Requires general education core course options to consist of a maximum of five courses within the subject areas of communication, mathematics, social sciences, humanities, and natural sciences, and requires a student to complete one course in each of those areas;
  • Requires that associate in arts degree students demonstrate competency in a foreign language; and
  • Requires the chairs of the State Board of Education and the Board of Governors to jointly convene faculty committees to identify statewide general education core course options.

If you have questions about this information, please don’t hesitate to contact Casey at caseywelch@sar.usf.edu