Encore Fellowship matches software specialist with City of Miami to benefit youth

July 26, 2017

Kevin Vericker

Kevin Vericker enjoys making light of his extensive experience with analytic software.

“It feels like I’ve been doing this since the Eisenhower administration,” Vericker said of his work, which involves describing, predicting, and improving the development, maintenance, and management of complex software systems. “I’ve actually been working with software since the 1980s, specifically in the area of analytics supporting government projects.”

Throughout his career, Vericker said his work has taken him from the private sector to the Pentagon. He is currently employed at IBM, which is where he became aware of an intriguing new professional opportunity.

“IBM offered me the opportunity to talk with Encore,” Vericker said. Encore Fellowships seek to match seasoned professionals with social purpose organizations in paid transitional assignments, but Vericker, 62, puts his experience in plainer terms. “I am comfortable with the o-word, so I’ll say their premise is to help older employees apply what they’ve learned in private enterprise for the public good.” Read More

FutureMakers Coalition releases baseline report for SWFL

July 24, 2017

A report recently released by the FutureMakers Coalition outlined a series of attainment improvement goals for Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry, and Lee counties in Southwest Florida (SWFL).

The timeline for achieving these goals is eight years, and they include lifting high school graduation rates, increasing business/education partnerships, boosting the number of local postsecondary graduates employed and earning living wages within the five-county area, and more.

According to the report, “data continues to be a cornerstone of the FutureMakers Coalition’s work and is used as a flashlight to point each of us toward the opportunities we seek for the region.”

But gathering that data was no small task. Read More

Georgetown report urges states to help students make more informed college and career decisions

July 18, 2017

“Where should I go to college?” and “What should I study?” are two of the core questions faced by learners looking to pursue their postsecondary education

However, a new study by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce posits that students are presented with far too many potential answers.

The study — “Career Pathways: Five Ways to Connect College and Careers” — revealed that the number of colleges and universities in the U.S. more than doubled from 1,850 to 4,720 between 1950 and 2014. Additionally, the number of postsecondary study programs more than quintupled — growing from 410 to 2,260 — between 1985 and 2010. Read More

Florida ranks third in nationwide FAFSA completion

July 13, 2017

From left, Steve Rios, Jessica Brock, and Ralph Aiello accept Florida FAFSA Challenge trophies during the 2017 Florida College Access and Success Summit. Florida ranked third in nationwide FAFSA completion during the 2016-17 school year.

The Sunshine State has earned a spot on the nationwide FAFSA completion podium!

Florida had the third highest year-to-year increase of any state in the number of total Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) filings during the 2016-17 school year, according to the National College Access Network. The state’s 19% improvement trailed only Utah (33%) and Wyoming (22%).  Florida is the third most-populous state in the country, compared to Utah (30th) and Wyoming (51st, after D.C.).

Overall, 49 states and Washington, D.C. saw gains in the total number of FAFSAs filed. (Rhode Island, which already had a high FAFSA completion rate and saw a dip in the number of seniors this past school year, was the lone exception.) The U.S. collectively reversed a four-year decline by improving the rate of all FAFSA filings by 6% during the 2016-17 school year.

NCAN notes the nationwide FAFSA completion rate for the high school class of 2017 — which was the focus of a new policy that opened FAFSA filing in October rather than January — was 61%, which represents an improvement of five percentage points from the class of 2016.

Florida’s 2017 senior class increased during the 2016-17 school year, growing by 3% in public schools alone (more than 5,000 students). The state increased the number of FAFSAs filed by 17,000, bolstered in part by statewide campaigns like the Florida FAFSA Challenge, which challenged schools and districts to increase their FAFSA completion rates by 5% or more compared to the previous year. Read More

TheDream.US awards National Scholarships to 172 Florida students

July 10, 2017

After receiving a record number of qualified applicants, TheDream.US recently announced it has awarded more than 1,200 scholarships to students with undocumented immigration status who plan to attend college this fall.

Collectively, these DREAMers will receive up to $30 million in scholarship funds. The organization’s National Scholarship Award covers each recipient’s tuition and fees up to a maximum of $25,000 for students pursuing a bachelor’s degree at one of TheDream.US’s 75 partner colleges throughout the country.

We know these scholarships will change the trajectory of our scholars’ lives and the lives they touch,” said Candy Marshall, TheDream.US President, in a press release.

This year’s recipients include 172 DREAMers in Florida who will be receiving upwards of $4.3 million in scholarships.

As previously reported by Florida CAN, some DREAMer students in Florida can qualify for in-state tuition rates, but are not eligible for federal or state financial aid dollars, making the scholarships provided by TheDream.US even more valuable for the students chosen for the awards. Read More

Florida College System panel emphasizes benefits of partnerships, collective impact strategies at Learners to Earners summit

June 22, 2017

From left, Marlene Spalten, Madeline Pumariega, Mike O’Neill, and Ava Parker take part in “A Conversation With Florida’s State College System: Securing Pathways for Florida’s Future Earners” panel during the 2017 Learners to Earners Education Summit. Photo by Colin Hackley.

The Florida Chamber Foundation’s 2017 Learners to Earners Education Summit recently brought together leaders from the state’s business, education, and workforce development communities to discuss best practices in connecting today’s learners to tomorrow’s career opportunities.

The two-day event — which took place June 13-14 in Orlando — featured a panel titled, “A Conversation with Florida’s State College System: Securing Pathways for Florida’s Future Earners.” Part of the conversation focused on the effect that collective impact and the work of local college access networks (LCANs) can have in shaping the state’s future.

“What’s interesting about the attainment conversation is that education is everybody’s business,” said Ava Parker, president of Palm Beach State College and a member of LCAN Achieve Palm Beach County. “There needed to be a shift in our community to start the conversation and build the expectation that a high school diploma is not enough.” Read More

Gulf County sweeps Florida FAFSA Challenge for small school districts

June 19, 2017

School counselors Jessica Brock of Port St. Joe High School, left, and Karen Turner of Wewahitchka High School show off Gulf District Schools’ Florida FAFSA Challenge trophies.

Following the 2017 Florida FAFSA Challenge, prizes were awarded to the schools and districts that had the highest FAFSA completion rate (“MVP”), the greatest year-to-year increase (“Most Improved), and best week-to-week improvement during the campaign (“Biggest Boost”).

Gulf District Schools was the only challenge participant to sweep all three categories and earn the FAFSA Challenge Triple Crown! Read More

Sarasota County wins state FAFSA completion award

June 13, 2017

Talent4Tomorrow partners and Sarasota County Schools officials accept the 2017 Florida FAFSA Challenge award for “MVP for Large School District.”

The following item was originally published in the June 12 edition of Sarasota Chamber Buzz, an e-newsletter published by the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce.

The Talent4Tomorrow Partnership (T4T) is proud to announce that Sarasota County Schools has won four awards for highest FAFSA completion rate in the state from the 2017 Florida FAFSA Challenge, a campaign to increase the proportion of high school seniors completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Through leading local efforts made by the Talent4Tomorrow Partnership, 45.5% of Sarasota County high school seniors have completed the FAFSA. This is a 9.1% change over the previous application year, which equates to an estimated additional $513,180 in Pell Grant dollars awarded to Sarasota County students. Additionally, schools in Sarasota County earned the following honors: Read More

Orange County’s “Most Improved” FAFSA Challenge performance leads to more than $5.5 million in additional Pell Grant dollars

June 12, 2017

Liz Smith, assistant principal of instruction at Boone High School, accepts the school’s Florida FAFSA Challenge trophy. Orange County schools occupied eight of the Top 10 slots for “Most Improved” large high schools (more than 416 12th graders) in the state.

Financial Aid Nights, text messages, and free laptops.

Those are just a few of the ways Orange County Public Schools, Central Florida College Access Network, and their partners went about informing and incentivizing high school seniors toward completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Overall, Florida high schools improved FAFSA completion by 9.1% during the Florida FAFSA Challenge this past school year. By the end of the campaign on March 31, 54 school districts and 390 high schools had met or surpassed the statewide goal of improving FAFSA completion by 5% compared to the previous year.

While that represents a tremendous gain for the state as a whole, Orange County outpaced the rest of the state in terms of year-to-year improvement.

Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) topped all large school districts — those with more than 1,000 12th graders — by increasing FAFSA completion by 16.1% compared to last year. Additionally, all 19 OCPS high schools met the statewide 5% goal, and Orange County schools occupied eight of the Top 10 slots for Most Improved large high schools (more than 416 12th graders) in the state, including the Top 7 slots.

“We are very pleased about the increase,” said Barbara Jenkins, OCPS superintendent, in a press release. “It is the result of an intense focus on student achievement by our college and career counselors in every high school and the commitment of our principals and staff to lead our students to success.” Read More

Think Florida website offers new tools for business leaders

June 2, 2017

More than a year after launching its “Think Florida: A Higher Degree for Business” campaign, the State University System of Florida (SUS) has announced the addition of tools aimed at giving business leaders access to new recruitment and informational resources.

The revamped Think Florida website hosts multi-purpose tools from the state’s career resource centers along with ExpertNet, an online hub that provides information about university experts, research centers, and opportunities for technology licensing. The site also aids employers by connecting them to Florida’s 12 universities to help with recruiting interns or employees. Read More

Highlights from 2017 Florida College Decision Day

June 1, 2017

The latest iteration of Florida College Decision Day was marked by pep rallies, pennants, prize patrols, and much more.

This year, 99 Florida high schools participated in Florida College Decision Day, the state’s adoption of Former First Lady Michelle Obama’s Better Make Room campaign, which was launched in 2015 and recognizes all students for their postsecondary plans the same way athletes and other high-profile, college-bound students are celebrated.

The campaign typically takes place on and around May 1, but several schools in the state got a head start on the festivities in mid-to-late April. To share some of the sights, sounds, and social media buzz generated at this year’s Decision Day events, we’ve created a Storify that captures many of this year’s highlights. Read More

Miami chapter of Take Stock in Children celebrates record-breaking graduating class

May 31, 2017

Cindy Lozada is excited to venture somewhere her parents never got to go.

“In my family, it’s really a big deal that I’m going to college because my parents didn’t go,” said Lozada, 18, who recently graduated from Miami Senior High School. In the fall, she is slated to begin attending classes at Miami Dade College’s InterAmerican campus, where she is enrolled in MDC’s School of Education.

Before embarking on her collegiate career, Lozada was recently celebrated for being part of Take Stock in Children – Miami’s Class of 2017. On May 25, the organization hosted its annual Senior Scholarship Ceremony at MDC’s Wolfson Campus.

The 189-member graduating class was the largest in TSIC Miami’s 21-year history, according to executive director Joanne Messing. She estimated the value of the scholarships awarded during the ceremony to be about $1.7 million. Read More

Florida Higher Education Coordinating Council discusses statewide postsecondary attainment goal at Florida CAN Summit

May 25, 2017

From left are HECC members Ken Burke, Madeline Pumariega, and Andy Tuck

Ken Burke empathizes with the challenges faced by non-traditional students seeking a college degree.

“When you’re 30 years old, that’s over a third of your life since the last time you were in an education environment,” said Burke, Clerk of the Circuit Court in Pinellas County and Vice Chair of Florida’s Higher Education Coordinating Council (HECC). “If I had to take a college math course at 30 years old with my last course being 12 years before, I would not be able to succeed without a lot of help.”

Burke and two of his fellow HECC members — Florida College System Chancellor Madeline Pumariega and State Board of Education Vice Chair Andy Tuck — recently took part in a panel discussion focused on the different ways Florida’s business, government, philanthropic, and educational communities have come together to provide that help for all the state’s students.

The panel was titled “Florida’s New Postsecondary Attainment Goal” and took place during the 2017 Florida College Access and Success Summit on May 10. The discussion was moderated by Marlene Spalten, president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay, who praised HECC’s adoption of an attainment goal. Read More

Highlights from the 2017 Florida College Access and Success Summit

May 23, 2017

More than 250 people attended the 2017 Florida College Access and Success Summit, and a good number of them had plenty to say. (And tweet!)

This year’s theme was “Breaking Barriers,” and the event served as a wonderful opportunity for professionals from multiple sectors — including business and community leaders, K-12 educators and counselors, postsecondary administrators, and more — to learn about new resources, network with colleagues, and share best practices in their efforts to improve college access and success for all Floridians.

In order to help convey some of the sights and sounds of our summit earlier this month, we’ve created a Storify item that includes pictures and videos from the event. We’ve also collected social media posts from summit attendees and other well-wishers who shared their thoughts (and their pics) throughout the course of the two-day event, which included more than 25 sessions centered around breaking down barriers to student success.

Click here to view our Storify story on the summit.

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2017 Florida College Access and Success Summit — PowerPoint Presentations

May 18, 2017

The 2017 Florida College Access and Success Summit is in the rear-view mirror, and we’d like to extend a big thank you to everyone who attended and showed their support. More than 250 people from multiple sectors — including business and community leaders, K-12 counselors and educators, college access practitioners, postsecondary administrators and more — attended this year’s two-day event, which included more than 25 sessions!

By popular demand, we have gathered all available slides from presenters during the summit!

Summit PowerPoint Presentations (available as PDFs)

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Pre-Summit Session (9:00 AM- 11:00 AM)

LCAN Collaborative Workshop: Building Ambassadors from the Inside Out

General Session (11:30 AM- 1:30 PM)

Welcome Luncheon — Better Together: Breaking Barriers

Read More

St. Johns River State College takes proactive approach to college access initiatives

May 17, 2017

Florida College Decision Day, the state’s adoption of former First Lady Michelle Obama’s Better Make Room campaign, seeks to recognize all students for their postsecondary plans. As part of the initiative, high schools typically host pep rallies, programs, and other activities adorned with collegiate gear to help foster a college-going culture.

St. Johns River State College in Palatka decided to flip that script and bring Florida College Decision Day to a group of stunned high school seniors.

On May 1, SJR State dispatched five different “prize patrols” to surprise 27 full-tuition scholarship winners at 13 high schools in St. Johns, Clay, and Putnam counties. The recipients — each of whom had designated SJR State as their “college of choice” — were presented with balloons, a candy bouquet, and an SJR State portfolio to go along with their scholarship announcement.

Daniel Barkowitz, SJR State’s dean of enrollment management, said the school got the idea from a video posted by Wheaton College in Massachusetts that involved surprising an early decision candidate by delivering her acceptance notice in person.

“We were talking about what we wanted to do around College Decision Day and around mid-to-late March, I said, ‘What if we did a prize patrol?’” Barkowitz said. “We put this whole thing together in about six weeks.” Read More

Poet Shawn Welcome shares unconventional path to academic success at Florida CAN Summit

May 16, 2017

Shawn Welcome’s long and winding road to getting his bachelor’s degree required the same perseverance and determination he describes in “Rio,” a poem he wrote last year as a tribute to the Refugee Olympic Team in Brazil.

“It felt really good and, in a way, school was solace,” Welcome said of his recent college graduation. The 34-year-old performance poet earned a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from the University of Central Florida on May 4. “Without context, it’s difficult to understand why it took so long and why I felt so good that day.”

The Brooklyn native discovered an affinity for a rap — both in freestyle and written form — during his senior year at John Jay High School in New York City.

“I’d heard rap music growing up, but it was a distant thing…something that professionals and celebrities did,” Welcome said. “As a kid, I liked writing and it was a strength, but I didn’t really consider doing anything with it.”

Welcome, who lived in New York and Central Florida throughout his middle school and high school years, enrolled in Valencia College in Orlando in January 2002. He was interested in becoming a teacher, but lacked the guidance to follow that particular career track.

“This one lady told me that marketing was a good path, so that’s what I wrote down at first, even though I had no idea what that was,” he said. “In my heart, I could see myself teaching because I knew that when I learned something, I really enjoyed sharing it with people.”

In 2005, Welcome earned an Associate’s Degree in General Studies. He enrolled at Barry University’s School of Adult and Continuing Education in Orlando in early 2006, but found his academic pursuits momentarily derailed. Read More

Florida FAFSA Challenge yields more than $37 million in additional Pell Grants awarded to high school seniors

April 26, 2017

Florida’s year-to-year improvement in FAFSA completion through the end of March resulted in more than $37 million in additional Pell Grant dollars being awarded to graduating seniors this school year!

That’s according to research conducted by Florida College Access Network following the completion of the organization’s statewide 2017 Florida FAFSA Challenge, which sought to increase the proportion of high school seniors completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

Overall, the state improved FAFSA completion by 9.1%, which exceeded the 5% goal established by the campaign.

“Our research shows that completing the FAFSA is a top predictor of whether a high school’s graduating high school class attends college,” said Troy Miller, Florida CAN’s associate director for research and policy. “This is a huge gain in one year and will surely lead to more students attending college and in the long run, contributing to our state’s economy and work force.” Read More

Middleton High in Tampa hosts College Decision Day event

April 25, 2017

College-bound star athletes aren’t the only ones who deserve a little hype and hoopla when they announce their postsecondary plans.

To that end, George S. Middleton High School in Tampa recently hosted its second annual National College Signing Day. The event is a spinoff of former First Lady Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher initiative, which seeks to inspire students to pursue and complete their education past high school.

As part of the Reach Higher initiative, Ms. Obama launched the Better Make Room campaign in 2015. The campaign seeks to recognize all students for their postsecondary plans the same way athletes and other high-profile, college-bound students are celebrated. Florida College Decision Day is the state’s adoption of the former First Lady’s initiative and is held annually on and around May 1. So far, more than 80 schools and organizations are slated to host College Decision Day events in Florida this year. Read More

Florida College Access and Success Summit to explore the state of scholarship innovation

April 24, 2017

Some of the more established scholarship funding models have been struggling to keep up with the level of demand.

Michelle Boehm, research and evaluation analyst for the Helios Education Foundation, said the desire to serve minority, low-income, first-generation, and other underrepresented sectors of the student population has helped drive some of the more innovative scholarship funding developments in recent years.

“The evolution of traditional scholarship models has been influenced by an inadequate ability to meet the needs of our nation’s traditionally underrepresented students and a growing recognition that helping students enroll in college isn’t enough,” Boehm said.

She added that tracking the impact and outcomes of scholarship funds that are administered is another significant challenge.

“Students also require support — both financial and non-financial — to persist and complete,” Boehm said. Read More

Florida CAN announces 2017 FAFSA Challenge winners!

April 19, 2017

Florida College Access Network (Florida CAN) is thrilled to announce the winners of the 2017 Florida FAFSA Challenge, a statewide campaign to increase the proportion of high school seniors completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid!

Through March 31, 54 school districts and 390 high schools have increased the number of seniors who completed the federal financial aid form by at least 5% over last year, contributing to a statewide gain of 9.1%.  This translates to over $37 million more in Pell grant dollars alone for graduating seniors to help pay the cost of college. (Click here for a district-by-district breakdown of the estimated change in Pell grant dollars awarded.)

“The boost in Florida’s FAFSA completions this year is phenomenal and a credit to the schools, districts, and community partners who have worked passionately to ensure all of our students have the resources to attend college,” said Laurie Meggesin, Florida CAN’s executive director.  “This is a real game-changer for the thousands of students and families impacted by this collective effort.” Read More

Clark Elementary students to get hands-on STEM experience

April 14, 2017

College Culture Classroom grant exposes kids to career options

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

It’s a popular question for elementary school students, even if the answer tends to evolve as they progress through each grade level and inch closer to having to make more definitive decisions about their postsecondary plans.

“A lot of them say they want to be engineers,” said Michelle Payton, 5th grade math and science teacher at Clark Elementary School in Tampa. Payton said her students’ career aspirations have been a topic of conversation throughout the school year. “It might seem a bit strange to start now since they’re only in 5th grade, but they have to start seeing connections between what they enjoy doing and the careers that are out there for them.”

To that end, Payton authored a proposal in the fall requesting four STEM Challenge Kits, a Magna-Tiles Master Set, and a STEM Careers Book Set for her 34 5th graders. The project was funded by Extra Yard for Teachers thanks to a generous grant from the Helios Education Foundation presented in partnership with the College Football Playoff Foundation, the Tampa Bay Sports Commission, and Florida College Access Network in a grant program that encouraged public school teachers in the tri-county Tampa Bay region to create a college-going culture in their classrooms. Read More

Impact of Peer Leadership to be discussed at 2017 Florida College Access and Success Summit

April 10, 2017

One of the most valuable and effective assets in the quest to get high school students more engaged in their postsecondary pursuits is sitting right next to them in class or at the cafeteria.

“The most influential person to a 17 year old is another 17 year old,” said Raquel Figueroa, co-program director of College Summit. For more than 20 years, the national nonprofit organization has worked to narrow the college enrollment gap by teaming with high schools throughout the United States to provide courses, curricula and training designed to guide low-income students through postsecondary planning. Read More

Two Florida Colleges among Aspen Prize recipients

March 30, 2017

Broward College and Indian River State College have been honored as Finalists with Distinction for the prestigious 2017 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.

The Aspen Prize recognizes community colleges for exemplary outcomes in four areas: student learning, certificate and degree completion, employment and earnings, and high levels of access and success for minority and low-income students. The $1 million prize fund was established in 2011 and is awarded every two years to the winner and up to four finalists.

Lake Area Technical Institute (LATI) in South Dakota was named the winner of the 2017 Aspen Prize and received $600,000 in funds. Meanwhile, Broward College and Indian River State College — along with Odessa College and San Jacinto College in Texas, which were cited as “Rising Stars” for their strong record of improvement — each received $100,000 in prize funds.

The five prize recipients were selected from a list of 10 finalists announced in September. Those finalists were chosen from a pool of more than 1,000 public community colleges throughout the U.S. Read More

Florida FAFSA Challenge Leaderboard Update: March 10, 2017

March 22, 2017

There’s only a little more than a week left in the Florida FAFSA Challenge! Which schools will win?  Check out the leaderboard below or view data for all schools by clicking the FAFSA Finish Line dashboard image below.

There’s still time for students to complete the 2017-18 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which determines eligibility for over $150 billion in federal financial aid programs that can be used to attend postsecondary institutions.

The FAFSA is a strong indicator of future college attendance and tells students and their families how much money they can receive to attend college or career schools, making it a critical step in the college-going process. To ensure all students have access to postsecondary opportunities regardless of their income, Florida schools and districts across the state have pledged to set ambitious goals to boost FAFSA completion rates in 2017.

Click image to view data dashboard

Read More

Centennial Middle School students visit USF for College Culture Classroom Project

March 22, 2017

Organizado…microonda…escritorio…compañero de cuarto.

The Spanish words for “organized,” “microwave,” “desk,” and “roommate” were among the most popular recurring terms in a project designed to get a group of middle school students excited about the prospect of attending college.

Almost 70 Spanish I and II students at Pasco County’s Centennial Middle School in Dade City recently took part in a College Culture Classroom Project that required them to create Spanish language ads and brochures describing their ideal college dorm and roommate.

The project was funded by Extra Yard for Teachers thanks to a generous grant from the Helios Education Foundation presented in partnership with the College Football Playoff Foundation, the Tampa Bay Sports Commission, and Florida College Access Network in a grant program that encouraged public school teachers in the tri-county Tampa Bay region to create a college-going culture in their classrooms.  The grant culminated with a March 9 trip to the University of South Florida campus that included a tour of Juniper Poplar Hall, which was the subject of many of the students’ ads. Read More

Legislative Overview: Which proposals stand to affect Florida’s college students?

March 20, 2017

The 2017 Florida legislative session is underway, and higher education is a high priority for policymakers two weeks into the 60-day session. Which bills are poised to impact college readiness, access and completion?

Florida CAN today released an overview of the highest profile proposals that could impact college students.  Top issues include:

  • State financial aid, including Bright Futures
  • Tuition policies
  • Reforms to the Florida College System
  • 2+2 Targeted Pathways
  • Performance funding for public colleges and universities

Click here to read the full report.

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Hey now…You’re a Florida FAFSA All-Star!

March 17, 2017

2017 has already been a banner year for the Florida FAFSA Challenge. The statewide initiative seeks to increase completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by 5% compared to last year, and Florida surpassed that goal more than a month before the campaign’s conclusion on March 31.

To celebrate individual schools meeting that same 5% goal, Florida College Access Network  is holding weekly drawings to award college banner kits to those schools. The kits are generously provided by the College Football Playoff Foundation and the Tampa Bay Sports Commission, and they each contain 20 collegiate banners for all of Florida’s universities as well as others in the NCAA.

The schools receiving banner kits as a result of the March 17 drawing are: Read More

Florida FAFSA Challenge Leaderboard Update: March 3, 2017

March 15, 2017

Two weeks left in the Florida FAFSA Challenge! Which schools will win?  Check out the leaderboard below or view data for all schools by clicking the FAFSA Finish Line dashboard image below.

There’s still plenty of time for students to complete the 2017-18 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which determines eligibility for over $150 billion in federal financial aid programs that can be used to attend postsecondary institutions.

The FAFSA is a strong indicator of future college attendance and tells students and their families how much money they can receive to attend college or career schools, making it a critical step in the college-going process. To ensure all students have access to postsecondary opportunities regardless of their income, Florida schools and districts across the state have pledged to set ambitious goals to boost FAFSA completion rates in 2017.

Click image to view data dashboard

Read More

Broward County debuts new local college access network

March 15, 2017

With more than 271,000 students and about 175,000 adult learners in 236 schools, Broward County Public Schools is the second largest school district in Florida (trailing only Miami-Dade County Public Schools) and the sixth largest in the entire nation.

So getting the county’s community and education leaders working toward the same goal of improving postsecondary attainment for all students could seem like a daunting task.

“Being the sixth largest school district in the U.S., it’s going to require a lot of coordination, effort, and time,” said Ralph Aiello, director of school counseling for Broward County Public Schools and BRACE (Broward Advisors for Continuing Education), a program unique to the county that offers students information on scholarships, financial aid, and the college application process.

Fortunately, the county recently took a significant step toward coordinating those efforts.

In January, local leaders hosted the first meeting of Broward Bridge to Life, a local college access network (LCAN) comprised of members from about 60 school district, business, and community-based organizations. The Children’s Services Council of Broward County — which provides early learning and reading skills, after school programs, and other children’s support services as part of its broader “cradle to career” strategy — has assumed a coordination role in partnership with Broward’s school district.

The goal of the new LCAN is to establish a college-going culture and dramatically increase college readiness, access, and completion rates for students within Broward. Read More

What you need to know about the FAFSA IRS Data Retrieval Tool outage

March 13, 2017

nullThousands of high school graduates in Florida have completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in recent weeks, taking the consequential step to finding what financial aid is available for college.  But a recent development from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will undoubtedly make completing the form more burdensome for students from this point moving forward.

In a March 9 joint-statement from FSA and IRS, it was confirmed that the FAFSA’s IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) was taken down as a precautionary step while officials work to strengthen the security of information provided by the tool.

Why is this important to students?  Here’s what you need to know: Read More

Review of research on dual enrollment shows it ‘Works’

March 9, 2017

Over 56,000 Florida students take a dual enrollment course each year, making it the most popular acceleration program chosen by high schoolers in the state. Given that so many students participate dual enrollment, which allows high school students to take college credit while still in school, it is important to know if the program works.

According to a new report from the U.S. Department of Education’s What Works Clearinghouse, dual enrollment programs have demonstrated positive effects on college access, enrollment, and degree completion among other outcomes for high school students.

Because policymakers and other stakeholders are increasingly being held accountable to improve student outcomes, supporting college access programs based on evidence is more important than ever.  Therefore, an affirmation from the Clearinghouse, which utilizes rigorous standards for reviewing available research, is significant because it provides educators with credible and reliable evidence that can be used to make decisions.

The reports supports Florida College System data that shows students who enter college with dual enrollment finish their degree in considerably less time than students who don’t. Read More

Florida colleges rank high among nation’s top degree-granting institutions

March 8, 2017

Florida colleges occupied four of the top 15 spots in a national ranking of public institutions that granted the most degrees during the 2014-15 school year.

The Chronicle of Higher Education recently analyzed U.S. Department of Education data on the number of associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees awarded by four-year institutions in three different sectors, including public, private nonprofit and for-profit institutions. Read More

Florida FAFSA Challenge Leaderboard Update: February 24, 2017

March 6, 2017

Less than a month is left in the Florida FAFSA Challenge! Which schools will win?  Check out the leaderboard below or view data for all schools by clicking the FAFSA Finish Line dashboard image below.

There’s still plenty of time for students to complete the 2017-18 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which determines eligibility for over $150 billion in federal financial aid programs that can be used to attend postsecondary institutions.

The FAFSA is a strong indicator of future college attendance and tells students and their families how much money they can receive to attend college or career schools, making it a critical step in the college-going process. To ensure all students have access to postsecondary opportunities regardless of their income, Florida schools and districts across the state have pledged to set ambitious goals to boost FAFSA completion rates in 2017.

Click image to view data dashboard

Read More

Achieve Palm Beach County is seeking a Vice President

March 6, 2017

Achieve Palm Beach County, a collective impact partnership including more than 40 education, government, nonprofit, business, and philanthropic organizations committed to increasing college access and completion, is seeking a Vice President.

The inaugural Vice President’s first responsibility will be to lead the move from concept to execution, molding today’s deliberations into a cohesive, implementable and impactful strategy. The position will also oversee all operational, financial and relationship-management aspects of Achieve Palm Beach County, which had its official launch in December. Read More

House of Representatives’ Fact Sheets outline state’s education policies

March 3, 2017

Looking forward to following the latest education updates when the legislative session begins next week?  Get yourself ready by checking out the House of Representatives Education Fact Sheets!

Created each year by the Education Committee of the Florida House of Representatives, the 300-plus page document outlines the state’s laws on education in narrative form.  This makes a great reference tool for not only state legislators, but the broader education community on matters ranging from pre-K and early learning to postsecondary education. Included in the document are fact sheets on statewide assessments, school grades, how high school students can get college credit in high school, in-state tuition, workforce education, developmental education and much, much more.

Download the Fact Sheets here!

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Florida College Decision Day set for May 1!

March 2, 2017

Decisions, decisions. Among the many choices high school students face on their way to graduation, few are more important than, “What are your college or career plans?”

College Decision Day in Florida is an initiative that seeks to recognize high school seniors for their postsecondary plans while encouraging younger students and their families to prepare early for college. Read More

High Five! Florida achieves statewide goal of boosting FAFSA completion by 5%

February 28, 2017

Florida has risen to the challenge of helping its high school seniors gain access to financial aid – and making higher education more attainable and affordable.

The Florida FAFSA Challenge – an initiative of the Florida College Access Network (Florida CAN) – strives to boost the proportion of public high school seniors completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by at least 5% over last school year.

According to Florida CAN’s analysis of the most recent FAFSA data available, Florida has met the goal with more than a month to spare before the campaign ends on March 31.  This is thanks to the progress made by 268 schools and 30 districts that have achieved the goal to date.

“Over the last three years we’ve seen a growing number of schools, districts and communities working together to help their students make college more affordable,” said Troy Miller, Florida CAN’s associate director for research and policy.  “It’s great to see that all their hard work is making a difference for students across the state.”

Florida’s collective efforts to boost FAFSA completion are having an impact: This year’s increase in FAFSA completions will result in an estimated $20 million more in Pell grants compared to last year, according to Florida CAN’s calculations.

Completing the FAFSA is one of the most important steps students need to take to access college or career school.  Students must complete the form to qualify for federal financial aid programs to pay for their college expenses. Yet according to Florida CAN’s research, each year Florida’s high school graduates leave behind more than $100 million in Pell grants alone because they do not fill out the form. Read More