Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

States Get Jabs on Higher Education National Study Hands Florida Mixed Grades

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

States Get Jabs on Higher Education National Study Hands Florida Mixed Grades

Article excerpt

Florida earned a D+ for preparing students for education after high school, but a B+ for getting those who start to finish, in a study released yesterday by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education in San Jose, Calif.

The study, "Measuring Up 2000," assessed how well individual states did in five areas: preparing students for higher education; participation of residents ages 18 to 44 in college or other training; affordability of higher education; how promptly students finish degrees; and economic and social benefits to the state as a result of its residents' levels of education.

The study's authors started from the assumption that Americans now need more education than a high school diploma.

The most recent figures were from 1998, and included all learning after high school -- vocational and technical schools as well as two- and four-year institutions.

The states were not ranked or compared and no national composite was reported. Instead, each state received a grade of A through F in the five areas.

Florida education officials were particularly baffled by one mark: a D in affordability.

Florida is the second-least expensive state in the nation in the cost of tuition at its public universities, said Keith Goldschmidt, a spokesman for State University System Chancellor Adam Herbert.

"We have the second-lowest tuition in the United States," Goldschmidt said. "Though I know we could use substantially more need-based financial assistance."

Though Florida has Bright Futures, a merit-based aid program for high-achieving students, there is no statewide equivalent for students with financial need.

Florida received a C for how well it prepares students for college. Eighty-four percent of Floridians ages 18-24 have a high school degree, compared to 93 percent in top states.

On participation -- the measure of how many students attend college -- Florida earned a D+. According to the study, 29 percent of students enter college directly after high school. …

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