Legislatively-designated as Florida’s Honors College for the Liberal Arts, the New College of Florida’s primary mission is to provide high quality undergraduate education to leading students coming from around the country. It is a small liberal arts college that has taken its place in a large state university system. It opened in 1964 with an initial class of 101 students. The campus it now occupies was a property bequeathed by Charles Ringling and Ralph Caples. It is located at 5800 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota, Florida.

When financial difficulties threatened its economic existence in 1974, the New College of Florida entered into an agreement wherein it operated as a distinctive college of the University of South Florida (USF) and became known as the New College of USF. Its status was elevated in 2001 when a bill was passed designating it as the 11th member of the State University System. It adapted the name New College of Florida. Its Florida-resident students continued to pay state tuition rates. The relocation of USF-Sarasota-Manatee Campus to its own location in 2006 provided the New College of Florida an opportunity to embark on an extensive transportation of its physical campus. Some of the improvements already done by this time are the construction of new residence halls and buildings for classrooms and offices.

Present enrollment is estimated at 785 students. The average class size is 18 while student/faculty ratio is 10:1. Students come from 39 states and 18 foreign countries.

The academic programs of New College of Florida are classified under three main divisions: Humanities, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences. Within these divisions are numerous areas of concentrations to choose from. Students can opt to design their own program after consultation and approval of faculty to pursue either a double, joint, combined or special program areas of concentration. Estimated cost of attendance for Florida residents is $ 18,039.00 per academic year inclusive of tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, personal and transportation expenses. Out-of-state resident students are charged about $ 39,641.00 for the same inclusive items.