HB7087 — Proposed Merger of SUS Institutions
HB 7087, upon becoming law, would require the Boards of Trustees of Florida Polytechnic University (Florida Poly), New College of Florida (New College), and the University of Florida (UF) to submit to applications for merger to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSSCOC). Upon approval of the mergers, New College and Florida Poly would become part of UF and specified items and assets of New College and Florida Poly would be transferred to UF.
The bill sponsor has cited the high cost per degree at both Florida Poly and New College and the percentage of Florida Poly’s and New College’s operating budgets used for administrative expenses as justification for the proposed mergers. According to an analysis by the professional staff of the House Appropriations Committee:
- The average cost per degree awarded at Florida Poly during fiscal year 2019-20 is $180,958, compared to $31,598 at UF.
- Florida Poly’s administrative costs are estimated at 23 percent, which is almost two and one-half times the 9.8 percent rate at UF.
- The average cost per degree awarded at New College New College during fiscal year 2019-20 is $197,681, compared to $31,598 at UF.
- New College’s administrative costs are estimated at 27 percent, which is almost three times the 9.8 percent rate at UF.
The analysis by the House professional staff suggests that reducing Florida Poly’s and New College’s administrative costs to a level more comparable to UF’s reported 9.8 percent rate would make available an additional $5.6 million at New College and an additional $6.9 million at Florida Poly that could be used for instruction or other expenditures.
On February 12, 2020, Florida TaxWatch urged the Legislature to reconsider the proposed merger and “pump the brakes” until a better understanding of any cost savings, and the effects of the mergers on Florida’s economic and workforce goals, are available. On February 25, the House Appropriations Committee approved HB 7087, which now goes to the full House for consideration.