Raise the FRAG, private Florida colleges say
Here's a way to stretch the state's higher education dollars, says the Independent Colleges & Universities of Florida: Give us a few more of them through the Florida Resident Access Grant, also known as the FRAG.
The group, which represents 28 private, not-for-profit colleges and universities statewide, advocates increasing (or at least not further cutting) the grant, which supports Florida students attending private institutions of higher education.
The Legislature created the FRAG, once known as the tuition voucher program, in 1979 to provide tuition assistance to Florida undergraduates who attend independent, nonprofit institutions in the state that are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
This year, the FRAG goes to 33,271 students, a number that's risen more than 40 percent over the last nine years. The grant stands at $2,529 per Florida resident student, down from $3,000 two years ago.
The FRAG accounts for 1.3 percent of the state's higher education budget, but private colleges and universities last year produced 26 percent of the state's bachelor's degrees, according to the group.
"We're doing our job," Ed Moore, the president of the Independent Colleges & Universities of Florida (ICUF), told the editorial board of the St. Petersburg Times on Wednesday.
The FRAG enables private colleges to provide student spaces for Florida residents that would cost a lot more to create and subsidize fully through state universities, ICUF contends. And when hard times force the state university system to cap enrollments and limit transfers, that drives more college students to private institutions.
But it becomes harder to meet that demand and help the state provide that educational access when the FRAG shrinks, Moore said.
-- Richard Danielson, Times Staff Writer