Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has shaken up the education system by enacting numerous, far-reaching changes in both K-12 and higher education schools. As he prepares for a likely presidential run, we wanted to find out how his policies are affecting college students.

In March, Intelligent.com surveyed 1,000 Florida students. In total, 783 prospective college students who are currently in high school and 364 current public college undergraduate students with at least a semester remaining completed the survey. Only respondents who answered a screening question that they disagree with DeSantis’ education policies moved on to the full survey; 147 respondents were disqualified at this stage.

Key findings:

  • Overall, 91% of prospective college students and 79% of current college students disagree with DeSantis’ policies
  • 1 in 8 graduating high school students in Florida won’t attend a public college due to DeSantis’ education policies
  • 78% of students surveyed who plan to attend a state school are worried the policies will have a negative impact on their education
  • 1 in 20 current state college students plan to transfer because of DeSantis’ education policies
  • 56% of surveyed current state college students are concerned the policies will negatively impact their on-going education

1 in 8 Prospective College Students Say DeSantis Policies Have Influenced Them Not to Attend a Florida State School

About 27% of high school respondents who disagree with DeSantis say they are unlikely to attend a state school, while 57% say they likely will and 14% are unsure.

Of those who aren’t likely to attend a public school, nearly half (49%) say it’s due to Desantis’ education policies. This group makes up 12% of all prospective college students, including those who are in agreement with DeSantis’ education policies.

Of students who are likely to attend a public school, 78% are concerned his education policies will negatively impact their education.

When asked why they are likely to attend a state school, the top answer given by those with concerns is the school’s location (66%). Among students who are not concerned about the impact of DeSantis’ policies, the top reason is the school’s programs (51%).

1 in 20 Current State College Students Plan to Transfer Due to DeSantis’ Policies

The majority of students who already attend a public college or university will continue to do so in the fall despite disagreeing with DeSantis’ education policies. However, 21% say they will ‘definitely’ (9%) or ‘probably’ (12%) transfer.

Of those who are thinking of transferring, 55% say this is due to DeSantis’ policies. This group makes up 5% of all current state college students, including those who agree with DeSantis.

For those who are unlikely to transfer and will stay in the public school system, the plurality (37%) say this is due to financial reasons. Additional reasons include the school’s location (36%), being happy at the school (36%), and the school’s programs (35%).

However, the majority of those who will continue attending a state school (56%) are ‘very concerned’ (31%) or ‘somewhat concerned’ (25%) that DeSantis’ policies will have a negative impact on their education.


The survey referenced in this article was commissioned by Intelligent.com and conducted online by the survey platform Pollfish between March 16 and March 22, 2023 . In total, the survey had 1,632 respondents, but only 1,000 respondents passed through all three screening questions and completed the survey.

Screening questions ensured only respondents who are currently attending high school in Florida or are an undergraduate student at a public college/university in Florida, plan to be enrolled in an undergraduate program in the fall, and disagree with DeSantis’ education policies passed through.

All participants had to pass through demographic filters to ensure they were between the ages of 17-24 and had completed no education higher than high school.

The survey used a convenience sampling method, and to avoid bias from this component Pollfish employs Random Device Engagement (RDE) to ensure both random and organic surveying. Learn more about Pollfish’s survey methodology or contact [email protected] for more information.

Please note that this study has not been peer-reviewed and is meant as a discussion piece.