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USF outperforms in economic metrics, earns $35 million

Mark Parker

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The $151 million USF received in the fiscal year 2021-22 was the most generous level of support in the school's nearly 70-year history. Photo: Veronica Brezina.

The University of South Florida is pacing state institutions across several performance metrics and adding to already historic funding levels for its efforts.

During its meeting June 30, the Florida Board of Governors (BOG) announced USF would receive $73.4 million in performance-based funding. That total includes nearly $38 million set aside by the university for meeting its goals, $34 million in state funding for exceeding program objectives and an additional $1.3 million from the BOG for finishing in the top three of all state universities.

USF received a “normalized score” of 92 in the state’s Performance-Based Funding program, which incentivizes schools to meet established metrics. The only institution with a higher score was the University of Florida, with a 93.

USF led the state in several key metrics, including graduate degrees awarded in areas of strategic emphasis and the average wage of undergraduate students one year after earning their degree. According to the school, the BOG developed the categories of strategic emphasis to help align degrees with the state’s workforce demand. They include careers in STEM, health care, cybersecurity and education.

“The University of South Florida is laser-focused on preparing our students for careers in high-demand fields and filling the talent pipeline for employers in the Tampa Bay region and the State of Florida,” said USF President Rhea Law in a statement.

“USF’s performance as an institution is driven by the talent and dedication of our hard-working students, faculty and support staff.”

The University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus. Photo by Mark Parker.

A study released in Dec. 2021 showed that USF generates over $6 billion in annual economic impact across its three campuses. According to the detailed 28-page report, USF St. Petersburg alone generates nearly $443 million of that total.

Following that report, J.P. DuBuque, president and CEO of the Greater St. Petersburg area Economic Development Corporation, told the Catalyst what it means for companies to have an institution of higher education like USF in the area.

“The greater access to USF as a regional university and top-shelf research university provides businesses the access to really, really high-quality talent,” said DuBuque in December. “We are blessed to have such a strong university in USF St. Pete – that is backed by USF proper.”

The BOG performance metrics released June 30 also showed USF scoring high in key areas such as four-year graduation rates, low costs to students and accessibility for low-income students who receive federal financial aid through Pell Grants.

According to the school’s release, USF is the only state university to finish in the top four every year since the state implemented the performance-based funding model in 2014.

Florida’s universities can earn – and risk losing – millions of dollars in additional state funding, depending on whether they meet or underperform the BOG’s objectives.

Brian Lamb, chair of the BOG, thanked the Legislature and governor for supporting the program and called it “one of the huge differentiating factors for our university system that differentiates us from the rest of the country in many ways.”

“And frankly, tying this kind of funding to performance-based metrics is, I think, the only way we’re going to reach our goals for the 2025 Strategic Plan,” said Lamb. “It makes a difference when you get that price signal, and it also makes a difference when people get the … negative price signal of non-performance, which comes with penalties.

“And although universities are making great strides in many of the metrics, there are some that still have a lot of work to do.”

The additional money comes less than a month after USF announced it received “the most transformative budget” in the school’s history.

The Legislature and governor approved a $55 million recurring increase to USF’s operational budget that serves all three campuses, $33 million to remodel USF health facilities for nursing students and $72.8 million for maintenance and repair of existing facilities across the university system.

USF hopes its performance and additional funding will further support student and faculty success while helping propel the school’s pursuit of becoming a top-25 public university.

 

 

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