As the campus changes to house a larger population of students and faculty, the school fails to bring in anticipated funding. These money problems stem from a failure to meet required state university performance metrics and a lack of first year enrollment.
At the end of every academic year, the State University System (SUS) looks at the performance metrics for certain schools in Florida. Out of the 11 schools that participated in the performance metric reviewing, New College’s scores landed within the last three. This meant that, along with the University of North Florida (UNF) and the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU), New College did not receive any performance funding from the state for the 2018-2019 year. In the 2017-2018 academic year, when the SUS reviewed the performance metrics from 2016-2017, the school’s scores were strong enough to receive around $2.6 million in performance funding. This funding was used for non-recurring purchases, such as employee bonuses and renovations to the hood system in the Heiser Natural Sciences building and ventilation improvements in the old part of the building.
The school fell short this year in the performance metrics concerning four different areas: Median Average Wages of Undergraduates Employed One Year after Graduation with a score of four out of ten, Academic Progress Rate (2nd Year Retention with GPA above 2.0) with a score of one out of ten, University Access Rate (Percent of Undergraduates with a Pell Grant) with a score of six out of ten and Freshman in Top Ten Percent of Graduating High School Class with a score of four out of ten. The other six categories had perfect scores. John Martin, vice president of the Finance and Administration Office, believes that the Board of Governors (BOG) will soon alter the way that the SUS allocates performance funding.
“The BOG is going to change the formula, they’ll probably talk about it in October,” Martin said. “Because they recognize that it doesn’t make a lot of sense, because our scores were good. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to penalize three schools, so they’re going to change that.”
The incoming first years also had an impact on the yearly budget which Martin and the Finance and Administration Office create. Martin explained that the office bases the yearly budget on billable credit hours and not a projected student headcount. For 2018-2019 the estimated budget was based on 28,000 billable credit hours, not on the projected 822 enrolled students. Unfortunately, these hours have decreased since the 2017-2018 year.
“Right now enrollment is down a little bit from last year,” Martin said. “So that means there are fewer students paying fees and also we still have lots of tuition and fee waivers we’re doing.”
The school issues tuition and fee waivers in the form of student scholarships. This means that in exchange for higher revenue, the school provides funds for students to lessen the price of enrollment.
For the 2017-2018 fiscal year, “we estimated $5,040,000 would be generated in tuition and fee revenue,” Martin said. However, for this fiscal year, 2018-2019, the estimated revenue generated from tuition and fees came to $4.6 million. These decreased revenues provide a discouraging view for the school’s progress, as they do not align with the goals of the growth plan, which projected to see 900 students for the 2018-2019 academic year. However, Martin looks at long-term effects of the growth plan and feels confident that the financial situation of the college will improve in due time.
“We would’ve liked [the enrollment] to have been higher this year,” Martin said. “The growth plan dollars we got only kicked in last year, we’ve only had them for one year. When you learn a little bit more about admissions you’ll figure out, you’ve got to start recruiting sophomores, juniors, seniors. It’s going to take a couple or three years to start moving the needle.”