New FAFSA Finish Line dashboard has been released!

February 17, 2017

Florida CAN has released 2016-17 FAFSA completion rates on its new and improved FAFSA Finish Line data dashboard.

The dashboard includes data for over 600 public schools in Florida and allows users to view school, district and state-level FAFSA completion rates using nine different filters and search options.

New on the dashboard this year is a “School Detail” page, which allows users to view FAFSA completion and submission data for the current and previous school year, in addition to an overview of weekly progress.

Also new on the dashboard is a “Download Data” button, which allows users to easily download a spreadsheet with current and archived FAFSA completion and submission data. Read More

Higher Education Coordinating Council releases 2016 annual report

February 16, 2017

The Florida Higher Education Coordinating Council (HECC) has released its annual report for 2016, recommending that state leaders address areas of performance metrics, articulation, incentives for business and education partnerships, and better alignment and prioritization of education funding.

The report provides actionable recommendations to the Governor, Legislature, higher education sectors, state agencies and the Articulation Coordinating Committee. Among the recommendations to the state legislature: Read More

Take Stock in Children is seeking a North Florida Regional Director

February 16, 2017

Take Stock in Children, a Florida-based nonprofit that offers low-income youth scholarships and mentoring resources, is seeking a North Florida Regional Director.

The Regional Director will oversee, support and guide all North Florida TSIC programs (the I-10 corridor including Alachua County). This individual will also help lead TSIC’s advocacy efforts by staying well informed of pertinent public policy at the federal, state, and local levels.

The deadline to apply is March 6, 2017. For more information on this position and to apply, click here.

City of Miami and Take Stock in Children launch mentoring partnership

February 10, 2017

Miami officials and community leaders display a proclamation declaring January National Mentoring Month in the city. From left are Joanne Messing, executive director of Take Stock in Children Miami; Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado; Jillian Hasner, president and CEO of Take Stock in Children; and Alberto Carvalho, superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools.

The City of Miami has enlisted the help of its employees and residents who are interested in serving as mentors to at-risk students.

The Miami chapter of Take Stock in Children (TSIC) — a nonprofit that offers low-income youth scholarships and mentoring resources — will provide college scholarships for students who take part in the city’s new Graduation Coaches program, an initiative that follows the national Cities of Service Graduation Coaches blueprint.

The initiative was formally introduced last month at Miami City Hall. January is National Mentoring Month.

“People are working together to create a city that is a global city, but a sustainable city,” said Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado. “We want to be able to augment what the school district is doing to support our students.” Read More

Achieve Palm Beach County announces official launch

February 10, 2017

A group of community leaders in Palm Beach County first convened in May 2015 to figure out how to improve college access and completion in the area they serve.

More recently, that group spent months developing a strategic plan and leveraging relationships among Palm Beach’s school district, higher education institutions, and community groups.

The result is Achieve Palm Beach County, a local college access network that seeks to collectively develop and ensure an integrated support system from middle school through postsecondary that empowers students for career success.

Achieve Palm Beach County recently had its official launch at a kickoff event attended by almost 150 community leaders representing the county’s philanthropic, business, educational and governmental segments.

“This is a conversation for serious thinkers,” said William Fleming, president of Palm Beach Atlantic University.

Currently, only 42.3 percent of Palm Beach County’s public high school graduates —and only 31 percent of low-income graduates — are predicted to receive a postsecondary credential within six years of graduating high school. Both figures are well below the projected 60 percent postsecondary attainment rate required to meet workforce demands by 2025.

The launch of Achieve Palm Beach County was highlighted by several panel discussions featuring the area’s business, government, fundraising, and education leaders. Read More

Osceola community leaders highlight Got College? Got Career? initiatives

February 8, 2017

Although Osceola County has already made progress in terms of enrolling its own high school graduates in Florida’s public post-secondary institutions, community leaders are even more excited about what the rest of 2017 has in store.

Representatives from Got College? Got Career? — a program that counts the School District of Osceola County, Valencia College, and the Education Foundation of Osceola County as its lead partners — recently offered an update on some current initiatives along with a glimpse into the program’s future.

“We had too many kids in our community where the day before their high school graduation we’d ask them, ‘What are you going to do next?’ and they’d have no clue,” said Kathy Carr, executive director of the Education Foundation. Got College? Got Career? was established in 2013.

Osceola, along with Orange and Seminole counties, is part of the Central Florida College Access Network.

During the presentation — which took place at Osceola Heritage Park and was attended by more than 100 community members — Got College? leaders noted that 45.2 percent of the county’s high school graduates enrolled in public post-secondary institutions within the state, according to the most recent data from 2014.

While that represents an improvement from the county’s 41.3 percent rate during the year Got College? launched — reflecting data from 2011 — the figure is still below the state’s overall 52.3 percent rate, along with that of neighboring counties like Orange (53.4 percent), Indian River (54.3 percent), Brevard (56.2 percent), Okeechobee (56.2 percent), and Seminole (61.6 percent).

Program leaders have identified 23 overall strategies to help boost post-secondary attainment, but Got College? has placed a priority on eight. Read More

FAFSA completion rates in Southwest Florida on the rise

February 6, 2017

A greater number of Southwest Florida high school seniors have successfully completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) compared to last year.

According to data released by Florida College Access Network (Florida CAN), about 27 percent of Southwest Florida seniors — 3,081 out of 11,415 students — completed FAFSA as of Jan. 20. That figure surpasses the April 1 benchmark for last year’s FAFSA completion rate, which was set at 25 percent.

“The fact that Southwest Florida is already at 27 percent is a positive indicator for an increase over last year’s FAFSA completion rates,” said Troy Miller, Florida CAN’s associate director for research and policy, in a statement. “More than half of Southwest Florida high schools show a positive increase in completion rates so far this year over last year, which indicates an increase in FAFSA education and outreach to students and parents throughout the region.”

Florida CAN serves as the data partner for FAFSA first!, a FutureMakers Coalition campaign committed to informing Southwest Florida seniors about the federal student aid application process.

“Thanks to regional collaboration through the FAFSA first! campaign and additional efforts to inform high school students and their parents about filing their FAFSA, as well the increased application timeline, we are in a strong position to achieve our goal of 40 percent FAFSA completion by the end of this school year,” said Tessa LeSage, director of social innovation and sustainability for the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, in a statement. The foundation serves as the backbone organization for FutureMakers. Read More

Florida CAN and partner institutions present before Florida House subcommittee

February 2, 2017

Representatives from the Florida College Access Network (Florida CAN), assisted by community partners across the state, joined forces for a presentation before the Florida House of Representatives’ Post-Secondary Education Subcommittee last month.

The goal of the presentation was to highlight the importance of boosting post-secondary attainment within the state.

“A high school diploma by itself is no longer a ticket to the middle class as it was for previous generations,” said Laurie Meggesin, Florida CAN’s executive director. “Increasing postsecondary attainment is absolutely essential for our continued economic growth here in Florida. It is also our best opportunity to build a path to prosperity for all of our students and families.”

Meggesin’s comments were followed by a presentation from Dr. Paul Dosal, vice president for student affairs and student success at the University of South Florida. Dosal’s remarks centered on FUSE, a guaranteed admission program launched in October that allows students at seven regional Florida College System partner institutions to earn an associate’s degree before transferring to USF for a bachelor’s degree.  USF is a partner of LEAP, the Hillsborough College Access Network, which has embraced FUSE as one of its core initiatives.

“What we’re providing for students is a clear destination,” Dosal said. “When they start, they have an end in mind and we’re trying to get them through in a timely way with minimal levels of debt, with the degree of their choice, and fully prepared to enter the marketplace.” Read More

Florida Jobs 2030 report highlights role of educational attainment in state’s future

February 1, 2017

Florida is projected to add 6 million more residents and require 2 million more jobs by 2030. Will our schools, colleges and students be prepared?

To help stimulate strategic thinking around these questions and the state’s future, the Florida Chamber Foundation has released Florida Jobs 2030, a new report aimed at helping educators, non-profits, business, industry and community leaders prepare for projected shifts in Florida’s labor market and the changing landscape of skills required for 21st-century jobs.

Earlier this week, members of the Chamber Foundation discussed the findings of the Florida Jobs 2030 report with state and local education and business leaders.

“When it comes to securing Florida’s future, it’s important to think long-term and when it comes to Florida’s workforce, that means planning for jobs that may not even exist,” said Tony Carvajal, executive vice president of the Florida Chamber Foundation, in a statement. “Florida Jobs 2030 will serve as the road map for businesses and educational institutions to work together to create pathways and partnerships toward economic opportunity.”

Mark Wilson, president and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, agrees that supporting post-secondary attainment is the key to the state’s future prosperity.

“Talent is quickly replacing the tax incentive as the economic development tool of choice,” Wilson said.

The report includes interviews from 90 stakeholders — a collection of education, business and community leaders — who examined five of the state’s eight targeted industries: Aerospace and Aviation, Finance and Professional Services, Health Care and Life Sciences, Logistics and Distribution, and Manufacturing.

To meet our state’s future economic and workforce needs, the report offered the following recommendations: Read More

Florida’s high school graduation rate climbs for the 10th year in a row

December 22, 2016

Continuing the decade-long trend, Florida’s graduation rate has risen again — this year by 2.8%.

The state graduation rate is now 80.7% for the 2015-16 cohort, an outcome that Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart attributes to increased accountability and the efforts of Florida students.

“Today’s news is cause for celebration! I am proud of Florida’s students for their outstanding achievement, even as the bar has been steadily raised,” said Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart in a statement.  “These results are a testament to their hard work and the benefit of Florida’s accountability system, which hinges on transparency and rewards progress every step of the way.”

Read More

Report highlights strategies for increasing college attainment among men of color

December 16, 2016

MDRC, a nonprofit organization dedicated to education and policy research, has released a research brief examining the higher education landscape for men of color.  The brief entitled Boosting College Success Among Men of Color highlights the factors that influence college persistence, retention, and degree attainment for Native American, African-American, and Latino male students and reviews current programs and practices to better serve this population.

According to the authors, despite having college and career aspirations equal to those of their white counterparts, many boys of color face significant barriers to attaining their academic and professional goals.  A number of explanations for this were outlined in the report, including being more likely to attend underresourced schools, being overrepresented in school discipline and juvenile justice systems, and having a lack of access to college preparatory classes.

In recent years, programs to help men of color succeed in college have grown in number.  The report assessed 82 existing programs across the nation that are working to increase outcomes for these students, three of which are based in Florida, including Broward College’s Brother to Brother (B2B) Advocate Program, Florida State College at Jacksonville’s Minority Male Success Initiative¸ and Indian River State College’s African-American Leadership Institute.

The analysis revealed the five most commonly identified strategies used to help men of color thrive in college:

Read More

Earn Up recently featured in IHEP guidebook on workforce alignment

December 13, 2016

Earn Up, the local college access network serving the six-county region of Northeast Florida, was recently profiled in “Aligning Postsecondary Education and Workforce Strategies to Drive Attainment,” a new guidebook released by the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) to support community-based efforts for boosting postsecondary education and workforce alignment.

The guidebook, developed with support from Lumina Foundation, highlights a number of practices and tools that communities across the country have utilized to better prepare students for future jobs.  In addition to Earn Up, other community partnerships profiled in the guidebook include Springfield Project 2025 (Springfield, MO); the Big Goal Collaborative (Northeast Indiana); SA2020 (San Antonio, TX) and Degrees Matter! (Greensboro, NC).

One of the strategies detailed in the guidebook are Prior Learning Assessments (PLAs), which help students translate their existing skills, knowledge and past experiences into college credit.  Earn Up, which serves a region that is home to five military bases, has been using PLAs as a strategy to increase degree completion among its active duty, reserve and civilian men and women.  Postsecondary institutions serving the region, including Jacksonville University and Florida State College at Jacksonville, meet on a regular basis to ensure their programs are tailored to support the needs of the military population through the use of PLAs and other supports.

Postsecondary attainment has become a key issue for cities and workforce development advocates in their work attracting employers who bring high paying jobs.  The contents of the guidebook not only detail best practices, but highlight the value that many of the community partners have experienced as a result of working together to achieve a common goal.

“Earn Up has become a selling point to potential employers,” said Patrick Murphy, Manager of Earn Up.  “It shows how our community is working together across sectors to solve the problem.”

Below are some other examples of ways community partnerships are preparing students for jobs, including:

Read More

Achieve Palm Beach County is seeking an Executive Director!

December 9, 2016

Achieve Palm Beach, the cross-sector cradle-to-career collaborative in Palm Beach County, is seeking an Executive Director to oversee the implementation of its work.

The inaugural Executive Director will be tasked to make Achieve Palm Beach County a reality, overseeing all operational, financial and relationship management aspects of the new entity. Although much work has been done to date, Achieve Palm Beach County is today a vision, and the Executive Director’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 deadline to apply is January 16, 2017. To submit an application for this position, please send resume, cover letter, and salary requirements to

For more information, click here.



FutureMakers Coalition establishes Student African American Brotherhood Chapter in partnership with FGCU

December 7, 2016

The FutureMakers Coalition, the local college access network serving the six-county region of Southwest Florida, recently partnered with Florida Gulf Coast University to establish a local Student African American Brotherhood (SAAB) chapter.

The SAAB is a national organization founded by Dr. Tyrone Bledsoe in 1990 to address the academic and social challenges facing African-American college students. Students involved in the program will benefit from academic advising and mentorship.

“We are looking at ways to enhance best practices across the region through collective impact efforts to address these challenges and promote equity in post-secondary access and attainment,” said Tessa LeSage, director of social innovation and sustainability for the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, the backbone organization for FutureMakers Coalition, in a press release. “SAAB is a best practice because it focuses on increasing the number of African-American and Latino men who graduate from college by creating a positive peer community based on a spirit of caring.”

Read More

Thousands of seniors complete their college applications through Tampa Bay College Application Week

December 7, 2016

Throughout the fall, thousands of graduating high school seniors at nearly 60 schools across Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties completed college applications as part of Tampa Bay College Application Week

College Application Week is part of College Ready Tampa Bay, a suite of programs sponsored by Extra Yard for Teachers and funded by Helios Education Foundation in partnership with the College Football Playoff Foundation, Tampa Bay Sports Commission and Florida College Access Network.  Launched as a philanthropic initiative to celebrate Tampa Bay’s hosting of the College Football Championship, the goal of College Ready Tampa Bay is to build and strengthen a college-going culture in schools throughout the tri-county region.

In addition to receiving technical support and promotional materials from Florida CAN, participating schools also received college banner kits from the College Football Playoff Foundation and up to $500 through to support their college application week and other activities that build a college-going culture.

College Application Week is part of a statewide effort called Apply Yourself Florida, which is coordinated by Florida CAN. Schools set aside time during the regular school day for seniors to fill out college applications with the help of trained volunteers. Over 145 schools throughout Florida held college application events during the fall semester. Many schools, such as East Bay High School in Gibsonton, FL, took this opportunity to offer seniors all-inclusive college application and financial aid support.

Read More

Helios Education Foundation awards $2 million grant to Florida College Access Network

December 2, 2016

Helios Education Foundation today announced a four-year, $2 million grant to Florida College Access Network.  The grant will provide support for Florida CAN’s work, outlined in our new strategic plan, in the areas of research and knowledge development, communications and public will-building, statewide programmatic initiatives, and supporting the development of local college access networks (LCANS).  LCANs are regional coalitions of leaders, organizations and stakeholders representing K-12, higher education, nonprofits, philanthropy, business, and local government that collectively commit to ensuring that all Floridians have the opportunity to achieve a postsecondary education.  Such coalitions currently represent 23 counties and about half of Florida’s population.

“Helios’ partnership has been instrumental since Florida CAN launched our first strategic plan in 2013, and we are especially grateful for Helios’ ongoing support as we embark on this next phase of our work,” said Laurie Meggesin, Florida CAN’s executive director.  “Like Helios, Florida CAN and our partners are committed to overcoming systemic barriers to equity, access and success for Florida students. Research demonstrates that increasing opportunities to achieve a postsecondary education will help deepen our state’s talent pool, strengthen our economy, and improve the lives of students, families and communities throughout our great state.  We are deeply thankful for Helios’ leadership and commitment to Florida’s college access movement.”


Florida Department of Ed launches new website to better inform families on school performance, college and career readiness

November 30, 2016

This week, the Florida Department of Education unveiled a new website that will help Florida families make critical education decisions by enabling them to access school and district-level data and will better inform families about the state’s college and career ready standards and the quality of learning taking place in their students’ classrooms.

The website is live at

“We take great pride in the fact that Florida leads the nation in school choice and student performance,” Education Commissioner Pam Stewart said in a press release. “Through the Florida Students Achieve website, we provide a central location where parents and families can access the information they need to make the best education decisions for their students. It is my hope that all Floridians will take advantage of this tremendous resource.”

One of the website’s primary functions is the school performance search tool, which ultimately enables parents to search by district, zip code, city or other geographic data view and then compare school and district data.

“I am confident that this new tool will revolutionize the way students and parents learn about the schools in their area and throughout the state,” State Board of Education Chair Marva Johnson said. “I commend the department for responding to the needs of Florida’s families with this informative, intuitive and transparent website, and I look forward to its continuous development.”

In addition to performance data, the site provides information relevant to current and future students of all ages and includes easy-to-find information about the Florida Standards, school and district performance results in core subjects, educator effectiveness and graduation and postsecondary statistics.

Read More

Florida Higher Education Coordinating Council Adopts Postsecondary Attainment Goal

November 29, 2016

Forward-looking goal aims to strengthen talent pipeline and meet workforce demand

The Florida Higher Education Coordinating Council (HECC) on Monday unanimously voted to adopt a postsecondary attainment goal for the State of Florida.

The HECC, whose members represent leaders of the business community, economic and workforce development agencies and higher education entities in the state, adopted the goal during their November 28th meeting.

“A well-educated population leads to a stronger workforce, leads to a stronger economy,” said State University System of Florida Chancellor Marshall Criser.  “This isn’t the flavor of the year in 2016.  This is actually a commitment to double-down on making sure at the end of the day that we’ve aligned what we’re doing at postsecondary education with our partners to match what our employers and what our economy are going to expect us to do.”

Read More

USF and Florida colleges “FUSE” together to boost degree attainment

November 23, 2016

Last month, the University of South Florida and seven partner colleges celebrated the official launch of FUSE, a program that guarantees admission to USF for associate’s degree earners who meet certain criteria.

The FUSE program’s inaugural cohort is comprised of 40 students now enrolled at Hillsborough Community College and St. Petersburg Community College. The program will expand its reach to students enrolled at the College of Central Florida, Pasco-Hernando State College, Polk State College, South Florida State College and State College of Florida by fall 2017.

Students participating in the FUSE program can choose from one of eleven in-demand majors and benefit from structured degree pathways, personalized advising, priority registration, and access to many USF activities.

With an ever-increasing demand by employers for educated talent, FUSE is expected to boost the production of college degrees across the Tampa Bay region and surrounding areas.

“By 2020, 65 percent of Florida jobs will require a postsecondary degree or certificate, so we need to make sure students are getting the education and earning the degrees to fill those jobs,” said Laurie Meggesin, executive director, Florida College Access Network in a press release. “The FUSE program is another excellent step by USF in developing an employable workforce so critical to our state’s economy.”

Read More

National scholarship application for DREAMers now open

November 23, 2016

TheDream.US is now accepting applications from students with undocumented immigration status who plan to attend college (“DREAMers”) during the 2017-18 academic year.

This national scholarship awards up to $25,000 toward a bachelor’s degree depending on their financial need and cost of attendance at their chosen college. Currently, TheDream.US scholarship is supporting 279 students in Florida with a committed investment of nearly $7 million in scholarship aid.

To be eligible, DREAMer students are required to be eligible for the federal government’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) or TPS (Temporary Protected Status) program and must be a first-time college student. Applicants for the scholarship are also required to attend one of TheDream.US’s partner colleges, which in Florida currently includes Broward College, Florida International University, Miami Dade College, Palm Beach State College, Valencia College and the University of Central Florida.

Read More

Webinar to highlight how partnerships can boost degrees in high-demand fields

November 21, 2016

Register now for webinar on 12/6 at 2pm!

The third webinar in our series on Connecting Education and Jobs in Florida features Dr. Jan Ignash, Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs for the State University System of Florida Board of Governors and Dr. Michael Georgiopoulos, Dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Central Florida for a discussion on the Targeted Educational Attainment (TEAm) Grant, an initiative funded by the Florida Legislature in 2013 to boost degrees in high-demand fields requiring bachelor’s degrees.

The TEAm Grant initiative began with a thorough analysis of available college and workforce data to determine which high-demand jobs were projected to have unfilled openings.  With $15 million from the legislature, four college and university partnerships were funded as part of a competitive application process to boost degree production in computer science and information technology, accounting and financial services and middle school teachers.  During the webinar, we will highlight the process for implementing the grant, including outcomes, successes and lessons learned from the project.

This is the third in our on-going Connecting Education and Jobs in Florida webinar series to help education and community stakeholders learn about future workforce trends, the supply and demand of different postsecondary credentials and resources that can help students connect to high-skilled, high-paying jobs. Read More

Five takeaways from Florida CAN’s recent webinar on Florida workforce trends and demands

November 11, 2016

Florida CAN recently hosted the second in a series of webinars on Connecting Education and Jobs in Florida.  During the webinar we heard an overview of Florida workforce trends and demands by Adrienne Johnston, Bureau Chief of Labor Market Statistics at the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity and Dr. Jerry Parrish, Chief Economist and Director of Research with the Florida Chamber Foundation.

Want to know what you missed? Here are the five biggest takeaways from the webinar.

  1. Future workforce demand is concentrated in jobs that require education beyond high school.  The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity produces long-term employment projections for the state.  As you can see in the chart below, jobs growing at the fastest rate, which were also noted to offer the highest wages, are ones which require postsecondary education or training.

Click to enlarge image

  1. Florida still needs nurses!  Nursing has been #1 on the list of jobs in-demand in Florida for over a decade.  Why do we still have a gap in workers?  Adrienne Johnston with the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity believes multiple factors are at play, including a shortage of training opportunities for nursing students (nurse educators are also in demand).  Other potential factors include the increasing training requirements for registered nurses.  Nursing is an example of a good paying job with plenty of opportunities for employment, not being able to meet demand for more nurses is proof that meeting workforce needs is much easier said than done.

Read More

Applications now open for Better Make Room’s inaugural Student Advisory Board

November 10, 2016

Better Make Room, part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher initiative, is looking for inspiring and hardworking students to serve on its first ever Student Advisory Board.

Members of the Student Advisory Board are committed to making President Barack Obama’s North Star goal a reality–for the United States to lead the world in college completion once again.

The Student Advisory Board’s mission is (1) to create a college-going, college-persisting and college-graduating culture at their schools, and (2) to connect fellow students to any information and resources they might need to succeed.

To be eligible, students must be a current high school junior or senior or in their first or second year of college. Students can apply for consideration as a Student Advisory Board member through Sunday, November 27th at 11:59 PM. Chosen students will be invited to attend both a Student Advisory Board training event and a ceremony honoring their selection at the White House in January 2017.

Read More

New dashboard shows Florida workers’ wages by education/training level

November 9, 2016

Florida College Access Network has released a new, interactive data dashboard that allows users to search median annual wages for Florida workers by education and training level.

Research shows that higher levels of education are associated with higher wages, lower levels of unemployment and improved job security.

Higher levels of education are also associated with lower levels of poverty. According to U.S. Census data, Florida adults with no college education are nearly 2.5 times more likely to be living in poverty than Florida adults with some college education.

“Completing a high-quality postsecondary degree or credential can be a financial game-changer for many Floridians,” said Troy Miller, Florida CAN’s Associate Director for Research & Policy. “We need to ensure the pathways to such degrees and credentials are clear and accessible for all Floridians.” Read More

3 ways to show you are #Thankful4Pell this November

November 9, 2016

Every year, low-income students from across the United States are empowered to pursue and achieve their postsecondary dreams because they received a federal Pell Grant. Nearly 9 million students benefited from receiving this form of support from the federal government during the 2015-16 academic year.

This year, the White House announced the maximum Pell award students attending college during the 2017-18 school year can receive is $5,920. That’s enough to cover all of in-state tuition and fees at Florida’s 28 state colleges, and the bulk of tuition and fees at Florida’s 12 state universities.

Yet the value of this grant continues to fall as college costs rise, and some lawmakers this year sought to remove federal funds from the program’s surplus. Because of the Pell Grant program’s profound impact on higher education, National College Access Network (NCAN) is asking its partners to express why they are Thankful for Pell, and we are encouraging you to express your thanks, too.

Join Florida CAN and NCAN in showing appreciation for the crucial Pell Grant Program on November 14-20, 2016. Here are three things you can do seamlessly using the resources available in NCAN’s Action Center: Read More

“Mr. Mill$” takes on FAFSA completion in style

November 3, 2016

Pictured (left to right): Jonathon Millian, Luis Duran and Luis Duran’s mom.

If you happen to ask “Mr. Mill$” why he looks like a million bucks, his students at Jose Marti MAST 6-12 Academy in Hialeah will tell you.

It’s FAFSA season, and if you complete the form, you can get money for college.

“Mr. Mill$” is the nickname students have given Jonathon Milian, the academy’s College Assistance Program (CAP) Advisor. Milian sports the “money suit” as a quick and easy way to make sure his students are aware that the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) opened on October 1st this year, three months earlier than prior years.

The “money suit” has been a success and has sparked dozens of conversations with students and parents about the financial aid process, including dispelling some common myths.

“I have families tell me they won’t qualify. I tell them everyone has a different level of need. What you don’t consider need another family will consider need,” said Milian.

About 77 percent of students at Jose Marti MAST 6-12 Academy are considered low-income and qualify for the free and reduced lunch program. If they complete the FAFSA, these students are likely eligible for several sources of institutional, state and federal aid, including the Pell Grant, which provides up to $5,920 each year towards attending college or career school that doesn’t have to be paid back.

Read More

State experts to discuss Florida workforce trends and demands

November 1, 2016

Join Florida CAN for the second webinar in our series on Connecting Education and Jobs in Florida. This month’s webinar features Adrienne Johnston, Bureau Chief of Labor Market Statistics with the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity and Dr. Jerry Parrish, Chief Economist and Director of Research with the Florida Chamber of Commerce Foundation for a discussion on Florida workforce trends and demands.

In last month’s webinar, Dr. Jeff Strohl from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce discussed the many types of postsecondary credentials that institutions offer, why some are worth more than others on the labor market, and why demand for higher levels of training will increase over the next decade.

On the November 8th webinar, Ms. Johnston will highlight some of the fastest growing jobs in Florida and new research on the skills gap in our state. In addition, Dr. Parrish will discuss recent research on strengthening Florida’s talent supply and education system, as well as the Florida Scorecard, the Chamber’s online tool that identifies and tracks key metrics that are important to Florida’s economy today and into the future.

Connecting Education and Jobs in Florida is a series of webinars to help education and community stakeholders learn about future workforce trends, the supply and demand of different postsecondary credentials and resources that can help students connect to high-skilled, high-paying jobs. To view previous webinars, click here to visit the webinar archive.

Event Details:
Webinar: Florida Workforce Trends and Demands
Date and Time: Wednesday, November 8th from 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Registration link:

This webinar is made possible thanks to generous support of Helios Education Foundation.


Five takeaways from Florida CAN’s recent webinar on “Understanding Credentials”

October 26, 2016

Florida CAN recently hosted Jeff Strohl, director of research at Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce on a webinar about postsecondary degrees and credentials.  Dr. Strohl discussed the questions and challenges states face when setting goals to increase the percent of their residents who hold a high-quality degree or credential to meet future workforce demand, a topic the center has addressed repeatedly in recent years.

Want to know what you missed? Here are the five biggest takeaways from the webinar.

  1. The value of education has stood the test of time.  Historically speaking, for decades employers have — and continue to — pay more for workers with a college degree or credential.  Why?  Workers with higher levels of education and training tend to have increased knowledge, skills and abilities, which makes them more productive and valuable to their employers.
  1. But not just for bachelor’s degree holders.  Many workers with an associate’s degree, postsecondary certificate, industry certification, apprenticeship or even some college, but no degree experience a wage premium over workers with no postsecondary education or training, too.  According to recent estimates, about 7% of Florida adults hold a postsecondary certificate.

Read More

“First look” FAFSA completion data now available for 2016-17 school year (updated)

October 18, 2016

Note: The full FAFSA Finish Line data dashboard for the 2016-17 school year has been released. Click here to view FAFSA completion rates by state, district or school.

Thanks to the U.S. Department of Education, FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) completion data for 12th graders during the 2016-17 school year is now available!

The data is available earlier this year compared to previous years because of the FAFSA’s new start date, October 1st, which is three months earlier than the start date for previous years.

FAFSA completion rates for the current school year cannot be provided until school enrollment data for the 2016-17 school year becomes available, which is expected in late 2016. When enrollment data becomes available, Florida CAN will provide updates to the Florida FAFSA Finish Line, our public, interactive dashboard that allows users to easily compare FAFSA completion rates during the school year.

Until then, track your school’s progress using our “First Look” dashboard using the filters in the table below. FAFSA completion data for the 2017-18 aid cycle corresponds with students completing the form during the 2016-17 school year, with FAFSA completion data for the 2016-17 aid cycle corresponding with students completing the form during the 2015-16 school year.

Also be aware that because the 2016-17 FAFSA wasn’t available to complete until January 1, 2016, there aren’t comparable figures to compare 2017-18 FAFSA completions, which is why January 8, 2016 FAFSA completion data is included below to use as a baseline.

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NCAN survey shows many FAFSA non-filers don’t know anything about financial aid

October 14, 2016

The Free Application for Federal Financial Aid (FAFSA) is available now for students to complete, with over $150 billion in federal financial aid available to use for college or career school.  Yet, less than half of high school seniors fill out the form before they graduate, causing many of us to ask the question – why don’t more students complete the form?

This past summer, National College Access Network (NCAN) conducted research to discover why this is.

NCAN surveyed 150 low-income high school graduates ages 17 to 20 who have enrolled or hope to enroll in college to learn more about their thoughts on financial aid.  Of the sample, half of the students completed a FAFSA while the other half did not.

Of the students who didn’t complete a FAFSA, more than half said they “don’t know anything about financial aid.”

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Pell Grant gets a boost for the 2017-18 academic year

October 13, 2016

There are 105 more reasons to complete the FAFSA this year!

The White House has announced this year’s maximum Pell award is $5,920, a $105 increase from the 2016-17 award year. The Pell Grant is awarded to undergraduate students with financial need who complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The Pell Grant, unlike a loan, does not have to be repaid.

During the Obama Administration, the maximum Pell Grant has increased by more than $1,000, and on average, 2.5 million additional students have received a Pell Grant each year. The amount awarded to eligible students is determined by multiple factors including financial need, the cost of attendance, full-time or part-time student status and the duration of the academic year a student plans to attend college.

Every year, high school graduates in Florida collectively leave behind over $100 million in Pell Grants simply because they did not complete the FAFSA. To find the FAFSA completion rate for your school or district as of July 1, 2016, visit Florida CAN’s Florida FAFSA Finish Line data dashboard. Beginning November 2016, this dashboard will be updated every two weeks with FAFSA completion data for the 2016-17 school year.


Join FloridaShines for Florida’s first ever Virtual College Night

October 11, 2016

Learn everything you need to know about preparing for college without leaving the comfort of your home at Florida’s first ever Virtual College Night on November 16-17, 2016! School counselors, parents and students are encouraged to attend.

Hosted by FloridaShines, Florida’s student hub of innovative educational services, this free two-day event will include six one-hour sessions on a variety of topics including college preparation, admissions, financial aid and more. Representatives from the Florida College System, State University System, Florida Department of Education, and others will participate.

For more information on Florida’s Virtual College Night, including a full schedule and session details, click here or email To access tools and resources FloridaShines offers to help students get ready for college, click here.


FutureMakers hosts annual Champions Breakfast

October 11, 2016

Pictured (from left to right): Scott Bass, Superintendent, Glades County School District; Sarah Owen, President and CEO, Southwest Florida Community Foundation; Marquese McFerguson, Doctoral Student, University of South Florida.

More than 100 attendees recently gathered at Six Bends Harley-Davidson in Fort Myers for the FutureMakers Coalition’s annual Champions Breakfast, part of a Southwest Florida partnership committed to transforming the regional economy by increasing post-secondary completion.

The goal of the FutureMakers Coalition is to transform the workforce by increasing the number of Southwest Florida residents with high-quality degrees, certificates and other credentials to 40 percent by the year 2025.

With the help of Lumina Foundation and its coaches, the Champions Team plays a pivotal role in the Coalition’s success. Team members include regional leaders from education, economic development, business and government who have the ability to create a stronger workforce and vibrant economy by improving cradle-to-career opportunities for students, offering job training and certifications, employee educational incentives and more.

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State Board of Education approves goals to increase Florida college-going rate, academic success

October 10, 2016

The Florida State Board of Education members have approved ambitious academic goals, including the goal to increase the proportion of Florida high school graduates who attend college.

Among the targeted metrics is public high school student’s postsecondary continuation, or college-going rates. About 61.5% of high school graduates in 2015 attended a state college or university, district technical center or private, non-profit (ICUF) institution within 12 months, the approved goal is 66.5% — a 5% increase.

The approved plan also included several goals and metrics pertaining to K-12 and higher education through the 2019-20 school year.

During the meeting, both Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart and Florida College System Chancellor Madeline Pumariega said the goal is necessary to ensure the state strengthens its talent pipeline and boosts the number of postsecondary credentials students earn to prepare themselves for future jobs.

Click here for coverage of the strategic plan from the Tampa Bay Times and here to view the meeting materials from the State Board of Education meeting.


FutureMakers launches “FAFSA first!” campaign to educate high school seniors about FAFSA and financial aid

October 10, 2016

The FutureMakers Coalition has announced the launch of a new regional education campaign to reach high school seniors and their parents in Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry and Lee counties about FAFSA and financial aid: FAFSA first!

Spearheaded by the Access & Entry team of the FutureMakers Coalition, the goal of the campaign is to increase the FAFSA completion rate among Southwest Florida high school seniors by 5 percent this school year.

To supplement schools’ current FAFSA outreach efforts, a campaign marketing toolkit has been created to provide informational handouts and materials about the FAFSA and why it is important for students and parents to file. In addition, schools will be sharing campaign information via websites, e-newsletters, text messages and other communication channels. The campaign will also be rolled out through a robust social media presence, including FacebookTwitter and Instagram. Geo-targeted online advertising via Google and Facebook will further boost the campaign’s reach with students and parents.

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With the support of College is 4 Everyone, Kathleen Elementary adds college to the lunch menu

October 6, 2016

For most children, lunchtime is for making friends and eating packed lunches or pizza. For 4th and 5th graders at Kathleen Elementary in Polk County, lunchtime is for thinking about the future.

The new “College Lunch Club” program is the brainchild of Kathleen Elementary Principal Lana Tatum and Pauline Simmonds-Brown, Program Facilitator for College is 4 Everyone, the local college access network serving Polk, Highlands and Hardee counties.  The two developed the program as a way to expand students’ awareness of career possibilities and the postsecondary education they will need.

At this month’s meeting, students had the opportunity to learn from community partners about banking. Fifth graders heard from Bill Mills, President and CEO of the Florida Prosperity Partnership (FPP), which serves as the anchor organization for the College is 4 Everyone network, and 4th graders heard from FPP’s Strategic Initiatives Rob Sansome.

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NCAN launches Form Your Future campaign to boost FAFSA completions

October 6, 2016

Figuring out ways to encourage students to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) can be a challenge, but thanks to the National College Access Network (NCAN), that job just got a little bit easier.

On September 30, NCAN launched Form Your Future, a new campaign that encourages high school seniors to apply for federal student aid and achieve their postsecondary dreams.

The Form Your Future campaign is specifically designed to reach students from low-income households who would be the first in their families to go to college. These students are less likely to apply for aid but can benefit the most if they do.

“Their award might affect their decision to attend college and, ultimately, change the course of their career. Just fill it out so you better understand your options,” said Kim Cook, Executive Director of NCAN in an article.

The campaign seeks to reach these students where they are most active: social media. By partnering with celebrities and social media personalities popular among students, the campaign spreads the word that the odds are in students’ favor to receive federal student aid. Read More

Two Florida colleges in the running for prestigious Aspen Prize

October 5, 2016

Broward College and Indian River State College are among 10 colleges selected as finalists for the 2017 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.

The $1 million dollar prize, which is awarded every two years, recognizes institutions for outstanding 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 colleges were chosen from a pool of over 1,000 public community colleges nationwide.

“Our colleges lead the nation in providing a high-quality, affordable education that prepares students to succeed in a global economy,” said Florida College System Chancellor Madeline Pumariega in a press release. “I am proud to celebrate two of our colleges being named as finalists for the 2017 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. Our colleges being honored for their dedication to student success and the vital role they play in Florida’s economy is a testament of the great work of the Florida College System.”

The prize will be awarded in March 2017 in Washington D.C. to the winner and up to four finalists with distinction. This is the second time Broward College and Indian River State College have been named finalists for the award. Read More