MIAMI – In just three years Florida’s higher education funding per student decreased 40 percent, according to a new report by national public policy center Demos and the Florida-based Research Institute on Social and Economic Policy (RISEP). As a direct result, Floridian families now spend 25% of median income on the cost of a single year of attendance at a public four-year college. The situation is only looking grimmer, with the recent $300 million cut to public four-year universities.
This new report, “Florida’s Great Cost Shift,” provides new data, warning that extreme cuts to higher education will both cripple Florida’s middle class and hamstring Florida’s ability to meet the demands of tomorrow’s workforce and rising senior population. In coming decades, Floridians will increasingly be shut out from the middle class as higher education degrees become increasingly required but farther out of reach.
Thanks to the cost of college, today, nearly two-thirds of Floridians do not have a bachelor’s or associate’s degree and only 43 percent are projected to hold a higher education degree by 2025. This is unsustainable for Florida, where the fastest growing industries are requiring a higher education degree. The healthcare industry will create more than 300,000 jobs in the state by 2020, many of which are critical to meet the needs of Florida’s rising senior population (seniors will be 24% of the population by 2030), yet four-fifths of these jobs will require some postsecondary credential.
“Given lack of access to higher education and degrees, Florida won’t be able to meet the demands of tomorrow’s workforce,” said Viany Orozco, Demos Senior Policy Analyst and co-author of the report. “Florida’s disinvestment in higher education is shutting its residents out of the middle class. These policy choices will leave a lasting painful impact on families and the state economy for years to come.”
"Florida's lawmakers are doing a disservice to the state's young people, its citizens, and to the welfare of its economy by shortchanging higher education. It's hard to imagine anything that could be more damaging to the future of our state,” said Dr. Bruce Nissen, Chair of RISEP’s Advisory Committee and co-author of the report.