Since 2007, tuition at four-year public institutions in Florida has increased by 67%, which is the amount that Young Invincibles recommends state leaders to increase funding for the Florida Student Assistance Grant (FSAG) this year. The proposed $90 million increase in funding to FSAG, Florida’s primary need-based aid program, would help boost enrollment and success rates, says the report.
“The research is clear,” says Tom Allison, Policy & Research Manager, in a Young Invincibles press release. “Awards targeted to students based on their financial need are more effective in improving enrollment rates and student success.”
According to the report, the need-based Florida Student Assistance Grant currently represents 23% of financial aid spending in the state. However, the report stresses that the amount should be higher not only because of tuition increases but recent reductions in state aid as well (see chart). Funding for the Bright Futures scholarship program has dropped from $424 million in 2010 to $266 million in 2015, which has affected low-income and minority students disproportionately. Given that Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature have shown an interest in making college more affordable for students in recent years, the report states that increasing need-based aid is an efficient and strategic way to get money to students who would otherwise not attend college.
There appears to be some agreement among state leaders that more need-based aid for Florida students is warranted, but not to the extent that Young Invincibles has recommended. According to Tampa Bay Times and Miami Herald reporting, the House budget proposal calls for a $6.7 million increase to need-based aid.