Tampa, Fla. – The Florida Higher Education Coordinating Council (HECC) has unanimously voted to adopt a postsecondary attainment goal for the state of Florida: increase the percentage of working-age adults (ages 25 – 64) who hold a postsecondary degree or credential to 55 percent by the year 2025.
Currently, only 47 percent of Floridians ages 25 to 64 have a postsecondary certificate. However, workforce projections show that the fastest-growing jobs in the state require postsecondary education and training.
“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.”
In recent years, Florida has demonstrated progress in boosting postsecondary attainment, thanks in part to the statewide work of the Florida College Access Network (FCAN) and its nine local partner networks around the state. LEAP, the Hillsborough College Access Network, had previous established a goal to increase postsecondary degrees, certificates and credentials among adults in Hillsborough County to 60 percent by 2025.
Starting in early 2017, members of the HECC, which includes leaders of the business community, economic and workforce development agencies and higher education entities, plan to dig deeper into the data to answer key questions surrounding the state’s talent pipeline and future workforce needs, which could result in an upward adjustment to the attainment goal and/or target date.
HECC’s adoption of a postsecondary attainment goal was widely applauded, and holds promise to accelerate the state’s momentum in building its talent pipeline and future workforce.
“We are grateful to the Higher Education Coordinating Council for setting this important goal for the state; we are optimistic that it will prove key to accelerating Florida’s significant progress to increase postsecondary and economic opportunities for all Floridians,” said Laurie Meggesin, Florida CAN’s executive director.
“We’re already seeing positive results from our network’s efforts in Hillsborough County and the HECC’s action will lead the way to greater success,” added LEAP director Chuck Tiernan.
Members of the LEAP Network have started partnerships on several key initiatives, two of which began implementation this fall.
FAFSA completion is the first step in the financial aid process, and determines the amount of financial support students may be able to receive to help them reach their postsecondary education goals. LEAP aims to increase the number of high school seniors completing the FAFSA this year by 5 percent in Hillsborough County. Last school year, only approximately 4 in 10 Hillsborough seniors completed the process, missing out on an estimated $9 million in available aid (U.S. Department of Education Office of Student Financial Aid, Florida Department of Education).
FUSE is an initiative between the University of South Florida and local colleges like Hillsborough Community College to help more students earn their bachelor’s degrees. FUSE guarantees admission in selected academic majors at USF for students who complete their associate degrees at HCC and other participating local colleges. Students who qualify for the program receive a designated FUSE advisor who offers personalized academic advice from the beginning of their time at HCC through graduation and who will also assist with a smooth transfer to USF.
For more information about LEAP and its progress toward increasing degree attainment in Hillsborough County, visit www.leaphillsborough.org.
LEAP – the Hillsborough College Access Network – is a cross-sector network of partners, convened to promote their community-wide commitment to college access and degree attainment in Hillsborough County. Using a collective impact model of collaboration, LEAP leadership will guide coordinated need-based strategies by partners, all geared at increasing attainment of high-quality college degrees and credentials. For more information, visit www.leaphillsborough.org.
About Florida College Access Network
The mission of the Florida College Access Network is to create and strengthen a statewide network that catalyzes and supports communities to improve college & career preparation, access, and completion for all students. For more information, visit www.floridacollegeaccess.org.