USF students to protest school budget cuts, changes to Bright Futures

Hillsborough County

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Students at the University of South Florida are making their voices heard again.

They’re planning to protest school budget cuts, as well as changes to the Bright Futures Scholarship Program, on Tuesday.

Several students started a campaign last semester to combat budget cuts. Students now plan to protest changes to Bright Futures as well that would lower the funding available for students.

Students say USF’s budget cuts are also putting students at risk and negatively impacting education.

“I feel it’s important to go out, be there in the view of the community and to be with other students and show there are people who acre and willing to organize around these things,” senior Enya Silva said. “They like spending money in places but it seems like us as students are not the priority, especially when it comes to Bright Future’s and financial aide, when so many underprivileged students rely on that and wouldn’t be able to go to school otherwise.”

USF’s director of media relations told 8 On Your Side several months ago, all state universities were directed by the Florida Board of Governors (BOG) to prepare plans for an 8.5% cut in state funding for fiscal year 2021-22. 

The actual amount in cuts that will be implemented for the next fiscal year will be determined after the Florida Legislature agrees on a budget and it is signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis. 

“USF is aware of the proposed legislation involving changes to Bright Futures, but those decisions are made by the Florida Legislature, not USF,” Director of Media Relations Adam Freeman said.

Last September, leadership assured 8 On Your Side that they are trying to make reasonable cuts. USF President Steve Currall took a 15% salary cut, his office says, and other top leaders will see a 6% to 10% cut in their salaries.

The campus police department will see a 5% cut this fiscal year, according to Freeman.

USF stats show an 8.5% reduction for the university is equal to $36.7 million for this fiscal year and tentatively breaks down as follows:

  • Colleges: reductions of $13.4 million
  • Academic support: reductions of $4.9 million
  • University business support: reductions of $6.5 million
  • USF Health: reductions of $6.9 million
  • USF St. Petersburg campus: reductions of $3.1 million
  • USF Sarasota-Manatee campus: reductions of $1.9 million

Students plan to protest at the corner of Fowler and Leroy Collins on Tuesday at 5 p.m.

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