Florida’s State University System has noticed the decline in access, and officials say they need to address it. At their June 29 meeting, some members of the Board of Governors expressed concern over a chart showing that the percentage of Pell students declined at all but one of the 12 state universities in 2020, the latest year for which data was available.
The number of Pell students actually increased at some schools, but not enough to keep up with rising enrollment. Across the whole system, the number of Pell undergraduates fell by more than 1,800 from 2014 to 2019, while the total undergrad population increased by nearly 29,000.
One of the system’s goals is to ensure that Pell students make up 30% of undergraduates at every university by 2025 — a mark the University of Florida and Florida State have missed every year since 2014. Meanwhile, the state’s lesser-known schools have been picking up the slack, taking on the job of educating the state’s poorer students.
“There’s a disturbing trend,” board member Eric Silagy said. “As Florida State and UF have increased in the ranking, it is tough to meet the goal and the trend is going the wrong way.”
The pair also talked with Michael Itzkowitz, of Third Way, about his recent “economic mobility index,”
rating colleges on how well they serve low-income students. The good news is that UF, Florida State and USF all scored well on those measures.
But — as Divya and Ian wrote — “to benefit, low-income students have to get accepted.”