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Strategic Budget Advisory Committee (SBAC)
Strategic Budget Advisory Committee

Economic Crisis Hits Florida Colleges

FSU, FAMU, UF and TCC will lose $64M from grant matching program

February 16, 2009

By Angeline J. Taylor

About $64 million in matching state grants won't reach three public universities and one local community college because of Florida's economic crisis.

The University of Florida, Florida State and Florida A&M universities and Tallahassee Community College are out the dollars because the state's lawmakers have put a hold on matching grants for the 2008-09 school year. It's a move that puts administrators in a bind.

"There were a number of gifts we couldn't get matched," said Ralph Alvarez, FSU's associate vice president for financial services. "There's no telling what will happen for 2009-10."

Officials say the state matching-grant program encourages donations. Donors could look forward to their dollars being matched by the state during a good economy.

"Like everything else in state government, matching grants are dependent on adequate resources," Bill Edmonds, spokesman for the State University System, said.

But resources haven't been adequate. As a result, lawmakers put the 2008-09 dollars on hold. Edmonds said lawmakers haven't decided whether state dollars for the matching grants program will be on hold for the coming 2009-2010 budget year. That decision will likely be made during the upcoming legislative session.

More than $102 million in match requests have gone unfunded throughout the State University System. FSU was due to receive more than $11.7 million. FAMU was eligible for $573,643. TCC was eligible for $801,280. UF would have received the largest amount, more than $50.8 million.

"The Legislature has always recognized the value of matching grants," Edmonds said. "Eventually, the budget's going to turn around."

Carla Willis, FAMU's vice president of university relations, said, "We're simply going about business as usual. We are continuing to work on significant gifts."

Florida International University won't be able to receive more than $8.7 million. University of Central Florida was eligible for $4.4 million. And University of South Florida was eligible for about $13.1 million.