Florida leads the nation in college affordability. Governor Rick Scott has made it a priority to ensure that the pathway to a college degree does not require a lifetime of debt. Florida colleges provide affordable access to high-quality education. In the Florida College System, only 24 percent of students take out loans to support their education, with the average debt level of $5,900 dramatically below state and national levels.

The Florida College System has been the cornerstone of the state’s affordability strategy. Creating $10,000 degrees to high-wage, high-skilled areas is one way that the colleges have been recognized among the most affordable in the nation. The 2+2 program is a signature program that leverages the Florida College System and the State University System together to provide a high quality, more affordable option for many students.

Affordability means high quality, and that is demonstrated through the success of the Florida College System graduates. Job placement rates in workforce programs (certificate, associate of science and bachelor’s degrees) exceed 80 percent, with average salaries in the $50,000 range. These outcomes demonstrate a clear return on investment for students and our state.

Cost should not be a barrier to access, and, as the primary access point to higher education in Florida, affordability will remain a top priority for our colleges.

Florida College System: Best Practices on Affordability


Title: Corporate Alliance Partnership Program  


The Corporate Alliance Partnership (CAP) builds comprehensive, mutually beneficial relationships with employers to grow a stronger Broward community. Starting with a simple business relationship between a company and the college, CAP converts that contact into a sustainable partnership that aligns students to employers and builds a workforce pipeline to bridge the skills gap. The CAP model is built from a cross-functional team throughout the college that have significant connections with the employer community. The team follows the model of accountability and goal achievement outlined in The Four Disciplines of Execution, 4DX by McChesney, Covey and Huling, 2012. A successful CAP program is focused upon three key areas: 1) make the program comprehensive, 2) ensure it is mutually beneficial, and 3) target labor market needs. Last year the net revenue generated from the skilled nursing training through continuing education was $250,000, a direct result of the MOU with Memorial Health System. Those funds were allocated in the college budget to support other academic and student success initiatives. This low cost, high reward relationship building tool has revolutionized how the college approaches corporate training, continuing education, career center services, internships and onsite enrollment services.  

Program Contact: 

Dr. Mildred Coyne
Executive Director, Workforce Education & Economic Development
Phone: 954-201-7811
Email: mcoyne@broward.edu


Title: Promise Program  


Florida State College at Jacksonville (FSCJ) is the first state college in Florida to participate in a national initiative to cover all expenses for two years for students in need. Beginning this fall, FSCJ Promise will pay tuition, fees and books for students for whom state and federal funding isn’t enough to cover those costs. The program plans to provide support for students through the creation of a college-going culture while increasing student persistence and degree completion for first-time-in-college students. Duval or Nassau county residents who graduated from a Duval or Nassau county public high school and first time in college students obtaining Federal Pell Grant aid are eligible to apply. Promise Program participants are required to meet with a Student Success Advisor and develop an Academic Degree Plan prior to the first term of enrollment. Students must serve a minimum of 60 hours of community service while enrolled. The Promise Program pays tuition, fees, and books after federal and state financial aid has been applied, for four consecutive terms (up to 15 credit hours each term; does not include Summer term). Currently, about 20 percent, or 2,597, of FSCJ’s 50,334 students are full time; the rest take courses part time or are seeking industry certifications rather than a degree. A student attending FSCJ typically faces about $4,200 a year in tuition, fees and books. The grant is expected to help up to 1,000 students a year to afford schooling, for a total cost to the community college of $1.5 million to $2 million a year.  

Program Contact: 

Dr. Christopher Holland
Vice President, Student Services
Phone: 904-632-3131
Email: Chris.Holland@fscj.edu


Title: Course Restructuring and One Stop Enrollment Services  


In the spring of 2016, academic and student support services were asked to collectively re-examine Florida Gateway College’s (FGC) summer course offerings and create a new summer schedule to boost enrollment. The College reviewed current enrollment patterns for low enrolled courses and collaborated new schedules with adjunct faculty. Agreements were created to remove low enrolled courses. All enrollment management departments increased outreach to high schools, targeting seniors, as well as parents who may be interested in returning to school. Increased marketing and publicity resulted in students making earlier commitments and following through on enrollment processes. One-Stop Enrollment days were scheduled to give potential students access to all services in one location. One Stop Enrollment now occurs every fall and spring terms. These events are centered on targeted outreach to unregistered students or students with pending admissions. Following the strategic practices associated with One Stop Enrollment and course restructuring, the summer 2016 semester enrollment increased by 4.5 percent in both headcount and Full-Time Enrollment (FTE).

Program Contact: 

Dr. Jennifer Price 
Vice President, Enrollment Management and Lifelong Learning 
Phone: 352-754-4324 
Email: Jennifer.price@fgc.edu


Title: Dedicate to Graduate: Reducing Fees and Increasing Scholarship Access


Florida SouthWestern State College (FSW) is focused on graduation and retention and as a result launched the Dedicate to Graduate Initiative to increase graduation rates, better engage students, and enhance the overall advising process. To minimize the obstacle of cost, FSW eliminated student fees that provided for a potential savings of $1,047,510, which included reducing course fees in 61 courses, eliminating fees in 81 courses, reducing the online access fee and eliminating the mandatory graduation fee. FSW also created a comprehensive scholarship program that aligns with the colleges’ strategic priorities. The scholarship revamp project provided an in-depth review of scholarship criteria as well as streamlining the processes for students to apply for scholarships, facilitating affordability. The college developed an internal scholarship database that consolidated multiple paper scholarship application forms into one central easy to use web-based application utilizing information submitted by students on their admission application, as well as information gathered from FSW’s Student Information System. Year to date numbers show actual savings of $416,647. The database has allowed FSW to more accurately match students with the available funds and overall student awards has increased 3 percent since 2014-15. Additionally, due to the student accountability criteria, average student GPA has increased from 3.18 to 3.22. 

Program Contacts:

Dr. Gina Doeble  
Vice President Administrative Services
Phone: 239-489-9029
Email: gina.doeble@fsw.edu  

Dr. Christine Davis
Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management
Phone: 239-433-6950
Email: christine.davis@fsw.edu


Title: Installment Payment Plan  


Florida Keys Community College’s (FKCC) student installment payment plan is a tiered payment plan system which allows students to spread tuition costs from two to five monthly installments. The cost of the program ranges from $30 to $40 per semester and depends on how far in advance a student registers for the program. With a cost of attendance at $25,456 for a two-year program, the installment plan cost to a student is a maximum of $160, whereas the average cost to use unsubsidized loans at 3.76 percent, and expected income of $40,000, on a standard repayment schedule is $5,182. The installment plan was driven by two influences: continued student interest for alternative financing options and the College’s initiative to reduce student debt as a result of pursuing higher education. Administration took several factors into consideration when developing an effective plan, including fee assessment dates, start of semesters, last day to add/drop courses and compliance with FTE reporting requirements. Students who default on payments prior to the guarantee date are removed from the program. As of FY2016, the program assisted 15 percent of our total unduplicated headcount. An unexpected benefit to the payment plan program is that we were able to retain students who did not complete the financial aid process in time to cover the cost of tuition. Upon completion of the financial aid process, they were able to cancel or reduce their payment plan based on eligible grants received. 

Program Contact: 

Ms. Heather Garcia 
Phone: 305-809-3178 
Email: Heather.garcia@fkcc.edu 


Title: Increased Use of Academic Success Centers  


Pasco-Hernando State College (PHSC) continues to strive for improvement in retention, persistence, completion and employment of students. One area, as identified in the 2015-2016 Performance Funding Improvement Plan, is the increased use of academic success centers. Pasco-Hernando sought to improve the student use of instructional labs through classroom visits, peer mentor reach out, campus engagement, marketing initiatives and academic support plans. During the spring 2016 term, Academic Success Center (ASC) staff made 120 classroom visits, attended 102 faculty/campus meetings, and attended 123 other campus events to promote ASC services. The College printed 10,000 ASC marketing cards which were distributed at various events. The ASC worked with students and faculty to generate 137 Academic Referrals (Academic Support Plans) in the spring of 2016. The College’s Peer Mentors made 15,262 contacts with students to assist them in their academic success. Classroom visits, peer mentor reach out efforts, attendance at campus engagement events and marketing initiatives, and the use of academic support plans contributed to a spring 2016 ASC average monthly student usage rate of 4,271. This was 1,172 visits above the College’s seven percent target.

Program Contact: 

Ms. Nicole Miller 
Academic Success Center Coordinator, Spring Hill Campus 
Phone: 352-340-4833 
Email: millern@phsc.edu 


Title: Optimizing Textbook Affordability via Open Educational Resources 


South Florida State College (SFSC) has committed to an aggressive initiative, SFSCopen, to promote and institutionalize the use of open educational resources (OER). SFSCopen focuses on promoting the use of OER textbooks both within and beyond our campus boundaries with the hope of inspiring other FCS colleges to join in and reduce the cost of higher education for their students. Both our college’s Faculty Council and Student Government Association passed resolutions asking faculty to consider OER first when selecting a new textbook. Students, now uninhibited by financial aid concerns due to high textbook costs, have full access to their textbooks on the first day of class. Currently over 30 percent of faculty members have adopted an OER textbook as the main textbook in at least one class. This has resulted in saving our students over $125,000 last year in textbook costs. The combination of proactive promotion coupled with senior leadership support has allowed us to continue adopting additional commitments to OER each month which will undoubtedly result in a rapid rise in the cost savings for our students.

Program Contacts: 

Mr. Erik Christensen
Dean, Applied Sciences & Technologies 
Phone: 863-784-7424
Email: erik.christensen@southflorida.edu 


Title: The College Experience and Guided Pathways 


To make college more affordable, SPC took a holistic approach to ensure that students have the most direct route to graduation. Through The College Experience and Guided Pathways, students are provided with a myriad of support services; they are taught how to navigate technology, begin to develop a Learning Plan and investigate their career interests. Each academic program has been outlined, identifying the recommended courses students should take and in what order, as well as identifying points along the path where students have achieved a college credential or available to sit for a certification. All associate degree programs within a community have the same first fifteen credit hours, allowing time to explore and switch between programs without loss of tuition or course time as they determine which program best fits their goals. From 2010-2015, the percentage of First-Time-Enrolled in College (FTEIC) students that earned 6 or more college credits in their 1st term increased by 11 percent, while the percentage of FTEIC students that earned 15 or more college credits in year one increased by 7 percent during the same time frame. Students who visited the Learning Centers 10 times or more were successful in 84 percent of their classes. 

Program Contacts:

Mr. Brian Miles
Vice President, Admin/Business Services & IT, Business Services
Phone: 727-341-3246
Email: Miles.brian@spcollege.edu