Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability
Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability

Education System

State University System

What is the purpose of the State University System?

The purpose of the State University System (SUS) is to provide high quality academic degree programs to meet state economic and workforce needs, cutting-edge research to address global problems, and community outreach to improve the quality of life for Floridians.

How many universities are included in the State University System?

Florida's public university system includes 12 universities with an enrollment of more than 400,000 students.

What is the governance structure for the State University System?

As required by Article IX, Section 7(d), Constitution of the State of Florida, the State University System is governed by the Board of Governors (BOG). Each State University System institution has a 13-member Board of Trustees dedicated to the purposes of the state university system. Each state university's Board of Trustees has the fiduciary responsibility for overseeing university operations, establishing cost-effective policies or regulations consistent with Board of Governors' regulations or guidelines, and implementing and maintaining high-quality education programs in accordance with the university's mission.

What types of degrees are offered by the 12 state universities?

The State University System offers Bachelor's, Master's, Specialist, Professional Doctorate, and Research Doctorate degrees.

The Board of Governors maintains a complete list of all degrees available at state universities on its website.

How is the performance of the state universities assessed?

Each state university produces an Accountability Plan to document its direction and priorities as well as its performance expectations and outcomes on institutional and System-wide goals. The System Accountability Plan summarizes the data from each university’s Accountability Plan. These accountability tools are used to annually assess the performance of post-secondary education within the State University System.

What is the Performance-Based Model?

Chapter 2018-4, Laws of Florida, codified the State University System performance-based incentive. Performance funds are awarded to state universities based on a funding model developed and approved by the Board of Governors as referenced in s. 1001.92, Florida Statutes

Performance funds are allocated based on the following ten metrics. Nine metrics apply to all universities, while a tenth is picked by each Board of Trustees.

 1. Percent of Bachelor's Graduates Employed (Earning $25,000+) or Continuing Their Education
 2. Median Wages of Bachelor’s Graduates Employed Full Time
 3. Average Cost to the Student (Net Tuition per 120 Credit Hours)
 4. Four-year Graduation Rate (Full-time students in college for the first time)
 5. Academic Progress Rate (Second Year Retention With GPA Above 2.0)
 6. Bachelor's Degrees Awarded in Areas of Strategic Emphasis
 7. University Access Rate (Percent of Undergraduates With a Pell Grant)
a. Graduate Degrees Awarded in Areas of Strategic Emphasis (applies to all SUS institutions except for New College and Florida Polytechnic University)
   b. Freshman in Top 10% of Graduating High School Class (alternative metric for New College and Florida Polytechnic University only) 
 9. a. Two-Year Graduation Rate for Florida College System Associate in Arts Transfer Students plus:
  b. 1. Six-Year Graduation Rate for Students who are Awarded a Pell Grant in Their First Year (applies to all SUS institutions except for Florida Polytechnic University)
  b. 2. Academic Progress Rate (2nd Year Retention for full-time students in college for the first time with a Pell Grant) (for Florida Polytechnic University only)
 10. Board of Trustees Choice (this metric is specific to strategic emphasis at each SUS institution)


The Board of Governors evaluates universities on the excellence (achieving goals) or improvement (making progress toward goals) for each metric based on prior year data and calculates a total score for each university. To be eligible to receive state investment funding, universities have to score a minimum of 60 out of a possible 100 points.

What are Preeminent State Research Universities?

The 2013 Legislature established the Preeminent State Research Universities program. The Board of Governors designates each state university that annually meets at least 11 of the 12 academic and research excellence standards identified in s. 1001.7065, Florida Statutes, as a Preeminent State Research University.

A university that meets all 12 of the standards must submit a five-year benchmark plan with target rankings on key performance metrics for national excellence to the Board of Governors. Once approved, the Board of Governors awards the university an amount specified in the General Appropriations Act.

The University of Florida, Florida State University, and the University of South Florida have been designated Preeminent State Research Universities.

The Board of Governors provides additional information on the Preeminent State Research Universities program in the System Accountability Plan.

What are Emerging Preeminent Research Universities?

In 2016, Ch. 2016-237, Laws of Florida, amended s. 1001.7065, Florida Statutes, to create the designation of an Emerging Preeminent Research University, which applies to state universities meeting at least 6 but fewer than 11 of the 12 academic and research excellence standards identified in law. Emerging Preeminent Universities must also submit a five-year plan with target rankings on key performance metrics for national excellence to the Board of Governors.

The University of Central Florida and Florida International University have been designated as
Emerging Preeminent Research Universities.

What are State Universities of Distinction?

The State Universities of Distinction program replaces the Program of Excellence system. The program applies to all SUS institutions that have not yet attained the standards for Preeminence, including Emerging Preeminent Research Universities.

The State Universities of Distinction program is intended to recognize and invest in universities that can attain national excellence in a core competency. The program is also intended to meet state workforce needs now and into the future and foster an innovation economy that focuses on areas such as health, security, and STEM.

Each State University of Distinction must submit to the Board of Governors a proposal identifying the program that is a core competency capable of reaching national or state excellence. As part of the proposal, each institution is required to identify metrics for measuring success. At least one metric must demonstrate a year-one accomplishment or success; at least two metrics must demonstrate a return on investment to the state; and metrics should demonstrate how the program has improved over time as a result of program funding. Upon review of these proposals, the Board of Governors may recommend additional metrics to measure success and progress.

How are these activities funded?

The two recurring sources of funding for state universities are state appropriations (from General Revenue often combined with Lottery) and student tuition. The portion of the state universities' budget appropriated by the Florida Legislature and signed by the Governor is called Education & General (E&G), or state base operating funds.

Information on components of a specific state university's budget can be found by viewing the fact book for each institution on the State University System's website.


The 2021 Florida Legislature enacted laws that will make several noteworthy changes to the State University System, including the following:

  • Chapter 2021-232, Laws of Florida: Higher Education
    • A new "Buy One, Get One Free" tuition waiver program will provide low-cost tuition for in-demand STEM programs.
    • Nontraditional students, veterans, and certain other military personnel will receive one free course and a 25% discount on tuition and fees for remaining courses in online baccalaureate degree programs. 
    • Universities will receive COVID-19 liability protection for actions deemed reasonably necessary to diminish the impact or spread of COVID-19.
    • The out-of-state tuition fee will be waived for top-performing out-of-state students who have a grandparent who is a legal Florida resident.
  • Chapter 2021-108, Laws of Florida: Postsecondary Education
    • The State Board of Education and the Board of Governors will select or create a survey to assess the status of intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity, and the universities will begin administering the survey annually in 2022.
    • Student government officers will have a right to appeal any discipline, suspension, or removal from office for any reason.
    • Students will be authorized to record video or audio of class lectures, but are prohibited from publishing such material without the lecture's consent. 
  • Chapter 2021-76, Laws of Florida: Foreign Influence
    • Universities must disclose all foreign donations and grants of $50,000 or more.
  • Chapter 2021-217, Laws of Florida: Higher Education
    • Prohibits state funds from being used to join or maintain membership in an association whose decisions or proposed decisions are a result of, or in response to, actions proposed or adopted by the Legislature, if such decisions will result in a negative fiscal impact to the state. 
  • Chapter 2021-160, Laws of Florida: Postsecondary Education
    • Universities will be allowed to give bonuses for employee recruitment and retention, rather than only for work performance, and they will be allowed to target certain employees for bonuses.

Where can I find related OPPAGA reports?

Review of the Capital Outlay Facilities Space of Florida's State University System, Report 20-SUSFACI, February 2020
Review of the Capital Outlay Facilities Space of Florida's College System, Report 20-FCSFACI, June 2020
Approximately 42% of Nursing Programs Had Licensure Exam Passage Rates Below the Required Legislative Standard in 2016, Report 17-07, June 2017

Where can I get more information?

Other Reports
State University System Board of Governors - Operational Audit, Auditor General Report No. 2020-032, September 2019.

Board of Governors - Office of Inspector General's Internal Audit Activity - For the Review Period July 2017 Through June 2018, Auditor General Report No. 2019-052, November 2018.

The Auditor General reports on university operations are available on its website.

Expenditure Analysis Reports, State University System   Operating Budget Reports, State University System
Baccalaureate Follow-Up Study: Employment and Education Outcomes One, Five, and Ten Years After Graduation, State University System of Florida, January 2018.

Websites of Interest

State University System, University Accountability Plans
State University System, Interactive University Data
State University System, University Facts Books
State University System, Strategic Plan

Performance Information
Performance measures and standards for universities may be found in the Board of Governor's strategic plan and accountability reports.

Performance measures and standards for the department may be found in its Long Range Program Plan.

What are the applicable statutes?

Article IX, Section 7(d), Constitution of the State of Florida; and Chs. 1001 Part IV and 1004 Part II, and ss. 1009.24 and 1001.7065, Florida Statutes.

Whom do I contact for help?

Florida Board of Governors, State University System, 325 West Gaines Street, Suite 1614, Tallahassee, Florida, 32399-0400, 850-245-0466, email: