Florida Polytechnic University Gives Free Tuition

TAMPA – How do you attract top tech students to a new university that has no track record, no accreditation and not much in the way of amenities save for a world-class architectural jewel of a building?  Let ’em in for free.

Faced with that dilemma, Florida Polytechnic University officials on Wednesday unveiled their strategy: Let ’em in for free.

Poly officials said they are looking to the school’s newly organized foundation to help raise tuition scholarships for all 500 students expected to make up the first undergraduate classes in the fall of 2014. “It’s a recruiting tool,” said Poly Chief Operating Officer Ava Parker. “We see scholarships as a way to recruit the best and brightest to our university.”

Trustees have not yet decided whether to extend the scholarship offer in the new students’ subsequent years or to make it a full four-year free ride for incoming freshman, Parker said.

The policy helped relieve some of the angst of members of the state university system’s Board of Governors, who are meeting in Tampa this week to review all 12 public universities’ work plans for the coming year. Members of the board expressed continued concern over whether Poly could meet enrollment goals in the cutthroat recruiting war for high-performers in science, technology, engineering and math — the STEM fields that will be the new school’s focus.

Board member Norman Tripp said recruitment would be the toughest issue facing the new school.

“Not that there aren’t students that don’t want this type of education, but the fact that you are going to have to seek the best and the brightest and there will be others offering them the same opportunity — you can’t take ‘lesser’ with the hope that we’ll make them better.”


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