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Gov. Rick Scott released his 2014-15 "KEEP FLORIDA WORKING" budget yesterday, which includes $460 million in performance funding for state universities and colleges.

Scott wants universities to focus on preparing students for the work force and said the money is a reward to colleges that are succeeding in doing so.

"We are working to increase the quality of education our students receive so they have the resources they need to find a job and pursue their dreams when they graduate," Scott said in a press release.

UCF received $21.8 million in performance funds, which was used to purchase two new software programs to help connect advisers to students in need and to encourage timely graduation. The funding also allowed the university to hire 200 faculty members — 100 of whom are new faculty members and another 100 who will replace retiring faculty.

"Thanks to the State of Florida's prudent investment in performance funding, UCF is in the midst of hiring nearly 200 faculty members this year," UCF President John C. Hitt said. "Our new faculty members will help UCF strengthen academic programs in STEM fields and other strategic areas, and they will help students across our university thrive in the classroom and in research labs."

In comparison, the University of Florida received $27.6 million, the University of South Florida received $22.2 million and Florida State received an even $21 million. Additionally, the University of North Florida received $7.4 million, Florida A&M received $7.2 million and Florida Gulf Coast received $6 million.

The Board of Governors' performance funding model rewards universities based on metrics such as percentage of graduates employed or continuing education, average wages of graduates and cost per undergraduate degrees.

"The Board of Governors is working to ensure we have all the right incentives and resources in place for student success," State University System Chancellor Marshall Criser III said in the press release. "Now the universities have taken that ball and are running with it."

The "KEEP FLORIDA WORKING" budget adds $100 million for performance funding in addition to $300 million of existing base funds for state universities. The budget also adds $30 million for performance funding in addition to $30 million of existing base funds for state colleges.

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Alex Wexelman is a Senior Staff Writer for the Central Florida Future. Email him at alex.wexelman.123@gmail.com.

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