To register and learn more about upcoming webinars, visit FCAN’s Events page.
April 4: Hands on Banking: Helping Students Afford College Through Sound Money Management
Helping students develop responsible money management skills has never been more important. With the cost of education rising, young people often take on significant financial obligations before they fully understand how debt works. Giving these students the necessary tools can help them learn how to invest in their education without sacrificing their financial freedom.
FCAN’s Amy Bolick, Community Engagement and Programs Manager, recently hosted Wells Fargo’s Mariana Ordaz, Community Support Representative for Florida, for a discussion about a helpful tool from Wells Fargo that educators can use to discuss financial literacy with students.
Interactive Content Engages Young Minds
To address this need for financial awareness, Wells Fargo created the free educational tool Hands On Banking. This tool features interactive content that educators can use with a classroom, or can assign for independent and self-paced use. Lesson plans are available for age levels ranging from elementary school to young adults.
Activities within Hands On Banking include creating a sample budget, developing a savings plan, and calculating the actual cost of a loan. This information is all delivered through age-appropriate exercises in both English and Spanish.
Wells Fargo at Your School
Wells Fargo’s commitment to financial literacy extends beyond Hands On Banking. Throughout the state of Florida, Wells Fargo professionals are available to come to your school and speak to students and/or parents about issues related to financial aid, saving for college, and more.
To schedule a Wells Fargo employee to speak at your school, contact Mariana Ordaz, the Community Support Representative for Florida, at email@example.com.
March 29: $500 for College Decision Day: How Better Make Room is Helping Schools Celebrate Students
On Thursday, March 29, Florida College Access Network was pleased to host Eric Waldo, Executive Director for Michelle Obama’s Better Make Room initiative, for a webinar highlighting exciting opportunities for schools hosting Florida College Decision Day events.
Mr. Waldo and Amy Bolick, FCAN’s Community Engagement and Programs Manager, spoke with attendees about the history of Better Make Room, the growth of the initiative, and resources and strategies available to help schools and communities celebrate their students.
The Growth of Decision Day
Former First Lady Michelle Obama’s Better Make Room initiative began in 2014, when she hosted her first Signing Day event in San Antonio Texas. Since then, participation in similar events across the country has grown exponentially.
In 2015, Better Make Room reported that 600 schools hosted these celebrations nationwide. As of last year, more than 1,500 schools in the United States were participating.
The event’s popularity has also grown across the state of Florida. In 2016, 74 schools participated in Decision Day. In 2018, 236 schools in Florida have already registered to host an event.
$45,000 in Funding Available to Host Florida College Decision Day Events
This year, the College Football Playoff Foundation and Better Make Room have partnered to distribute $100,000 of funding to schools hosting College Decision Day. Of that $100,000 at least $45,000 has been earmarked to fund Florida schools! Schools are eligible for grants of up to $500 to fund their Decision Day events.
How Do I Get the Grant Funding?
To be eligible for the grant, you must:
- Be registered as a host site with either Florida College Access Network or Better Make Room
- Be a current teacher or school counselor at a public school
If you meet these requirements, you can apply for the grant by following these steps:
- Create a school counselor or teacher account with Donors Choose
- Create a project with the materials you need to host your Decision Day event
- Once your project has been submitted, Donors Choose will review it
- After Donors Choose approves your project, email firstname.lastname@example.org with a link to your event
- Florida College Decision Day Site Coordinator Toolkit
- Better Make Room College Signing Day Toolkit
- $500 for College Decision Day Webinar Recording and Slides
March 15: Getting to the Finish Line: Unique Postsecondary Barriers Adult Students Face
In order for Florida to be ready for tomorrow’s jobs, we need adults who have started college to complete a credential.
FCAN’s Kathy McDonald, Assistant Director of Network Partnerships, recently hosted Complete Florida’s Dr. Michelle Horton, Director, and Jehan Clark, a Complete Florida graduate and Program Manager, for a discussion on the common hurdles adult students face and how creative institutions are meeting the challenge.
Did You Know?
- 37% of Florida college students are age 25+
- 2.2M adults in Florida have some college credit but no credential
Adult learners face unique challenges their first-time-in-college peers don’t. Those barriers include:
Uneven Course Credit History
Some adults started college right out of high school when they weren’t ready. Now, they have to overcome a credit history that doesn’t reflect their current maturity and motivation.
Support needed – Help navigating options: Busy adults need help finding the college option that will accept the most number of course credits they previously earned. As a result, they need guidance in knowing how to ask for course substitutions and how to take advantage of a transient student status that can get them to the finish line sooner.
Seventy five percent of today’s college students are juggling some combination of work, school, and family while commuting to class. These competing demands mean a majority of adult students are concerned about their work/life/school balance.
Support needed – Flexibility: Adults are looking for flexible course schedules that work around their schedule, such as shorter-term lengths and online/hybrid course options.
While traditional age college students are concerned with how they will pay for their education, adults have additional challenges in that they may have already exhausted available financial aid, or they are dealing with a credit hold or a student loan default. And with adults often attending college part-time, many sources of financial aid like Bright Futures are not available to them.
Support needed – Alternative course credit options: Alternative credit options such as CLEP exams, ACE workforce training credits, and prior learning assessments all help adults earn credit for experience, which saves them time and money.
With clear career plans tied to their education goals, adults often excel where they once struggled. With some strategic support, these adults can finally finish what they started, creating brighter futures for themselves, their family and their community.
February 22: Scholarship Innovation: How Funders and Communities are Meeting the Needs of Today’s Students
For many students, scholarships are an important piece of how they will pay for college. Yet there are challenges with traditional scholarship models.
Overall, current scholarship models may not be tailored to fit unique community needs. Financial aid can fall short for traditionally underrepresented students. There also tends to be a focus on incoming first-year students only, which means many scholarship models are not structured to support retention and completion.
FCAN’s Kathy McDonald, Assistant Director of Network Partnerships, was recently joined by Helios Education Foundation’s Paul Perrault, PhD, Vice President and Director of Research and Evaluation, and Michelle Boehm, Research and Evaluation Analyst, to explore how communities can rethink their scholarship models by leveraging what’s working in other regions during a webinar titled, “Scholarship Innovation: How Funders and Communities are Meeting the Needs of Today’s Students.” Newer models seek to address limitation that both funders and students face with traditional scholarships.
The Challenge for Funders
- Scholarship criteria specified by donors can be too narrow to attract a sufficient applicant pool.
- Tracking outcomes is difficult — did the student graduate and get a job in their field of choice?
- Administrative costs can be high.
The Challenge for Students
Scholarships rarely cover all expenses for their full program, which leaves students scrambling each year looking for new scholarships. Additionally, student financial needs often extend beyond tuition and books to now include transportation, housing, food scarcity and healthcare.
Key Takeaways from FCAN Webinar
There are several major domains of scholarships innovative funders are trying:
- Emergency scholarships — address unexpected hardships that threaten a student’s ability to persist and complete.
- Performance-based scholarships — provide aid for low-income students that is contingent on completion of certain academic benchmarks paid directly to students, often disbursed in multiple increments throughout the term.
- Wrap-around scholarships — take a holistic approach to include supports like mentoring, tutoring, academic and career counseling, and internship placements.
- Promise scholarships — are institutional or place-based initiatives that provide funding for students who live in the program’s geographic area.
Many of these models are so new that students may not have finished their credential, so career outcomes are not yet known. However, many are looking promising because of their ability to support persistence in college.
The Qualities of Effective Scholarship Models
Finally, scholarship models are most impactful when they are:
- Renewable — so they can support a student for the duration of earning their credential.
- Predictable — so that students know they can count on the financial support and don’t have to go scrambling.
- Simple and transparent — so that students can readily understand whether they qualify.
- Supplement institutional funds — so that the scholarships can fill in the funding gaps that are not covered through other sources.
- Incorporate incentives for academic success — to encourage completion.
- Include non-financial support services — to meet the non-academic needs such as housing or transportation.
To learn more, listen to the recording from the webinar and check out the handouts that accompanied the presentation.
February 13: Lost in Translation: Helping Students Translate College Experience into Professional Skills Employers Value
Each year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) surveys employers to determine the professional skills they most value. To help college students translate their work into skills employers covet, the University of South Florida’s (USF) Career Services created an innovative badging program.
During FCAN’s webinar — “Lost in Translation: Helping Students Translate College Experience into Professional Skills Employers Value” — Kathy McDonald, FCAN’s Assistant Director of Network Partnerships, and Lynn Chisholm, USF’s Director of Internships and Career Readiness, discussed the badging program and how it is helping students demonstrate sought-after skills to earn their first job out of college.
Biggest Takeaway: We Have a Communications Gap, Not a Skills Gap
Students are in fact developing the transferrable skills employers seek in new hires, they are just struggling to translate what they are learning using the language of the workforce.
How USF’s Badging Program Can Help
- USF took a whole campus approach, bringing in content from faculty, student organizations, and extra-curricular activities to help students see that all of their college experiences contribute to their development of NACE core competency areas
- USF created the badging program to help students build a workforce vocabulary in the competency areas employers value. By gamifying it, 2nd year students are eager to move through the framework and can earn a Career Management badge that they can then put on their LinkedIn profile.
Moving Through the Framework in 3 Easy Steps
Students work their way through the framework, leveraging critical reflection utilizing 3 modules for each competency:
- Learn it: Do they understand what each competency is?
- Do it: Students build their experience in each competency area throughout their college experience, which can include study abroad, service learning, clubs, or student government experience.
- Show It: Using the STAR-L framework they help to build a “story” for each competency so that they can answer common interview questions that look for examples of a graduate demonstrating the competency.
USF Career Readiness Badging Program: Executive Summary
STAR story template
NACA Career Readiness Fact Sheet
Book Recommendation from guest speaker Lynn Chisholm — Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life by Bill Burnett
January 11: Good Jobs Require More Education (But Not Always a BA!)
While labor economists predict that 60% of all jobs by 2025 will require a postsecondary credential, there is a common misconception that a bachelor’s degree is the only pathway to career success.
FCAN’s first webinar of 2018 featured Neil Ridley, Director of State Initiatives with Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce (“the Center”), and Troy Miller, FCAN’s Assistant Director for Research and Policy, talking about the growth of good jobs that have gone to workers with associate’s degrees, postsecondary certificates or industry certifications.
Here are the five biggest takeaways from the webinar:
- Education beyond high school matters for getting a good job. What’s a good job? It’s a job that pays at least $35,000 annually for workers under 45 and at least $45,000 for workers 45 and older. As research from the Center and their Good Jobs Project shows, the more education you have, the better your chances are at getting a good job (see slide).
- It’s hard in today’s economy to get a good job with just a high school diploma. Workers in Florida with a high school diploma make below $28,000 annually, which is below the state average and far below the average wage for workers with higher levels of education and training. The trend is likely to continue, as labor economists at the Center predict 65% of future jobs will require some postsecondary education in the coming years (see slide).
- Not all good jobs require a bachelor’s degree. While it’s true that good jobs favor those who have higher levels of education, not all good jobs require a BA. Not everyone goes from high school directly to a four-year university, so it pays to know that fields such as health services, finance and retail have good jobs to offer workers with associate’s degree’s, certificates and other credentials as they begin and transition through their career.
- Helping students prepare for and begin rewarding careers is a job too big to do alone. To build better linkages between education and the workforce, schools, colleges and employers need to work together to help students connect to good jobs and opportunities to further their education and training.
- We need to know more about certificates, certifications and other workforce credentials. Historically, postsecondary “credential” attainment was synonymous with “degree” attainment. But experts are now taking a different, broader view of credentials to recognize the value that non-degree credentials like certificates, certifications and licenses have in the labor market. While data on the attainment of these credentials are still somewhat limited, work is being done by the U.S. Census Bureau with help from other federal agencies to provide states with better information on these areas. See the Interagency Working Group on Expanded Measures of Enrollment and Attainment (GEMEnA) Project to learn more.
Want to check out the webinar for yourself? Click here to view the slides and recording, and visit www.GoodJobsData.org for state and national reports on Good Jobs from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce.
December 12: Busting the Affordability Barrier: What You Need to Know About This Year’s Florida FAFSA Challenge
Through community-wide efforts, last year Florida increased FAFSA completion by 9.1% through March 2017, which brought an additional $37 million in Pell Grants to college freshmen statewide. This support is critical in helping students go to college.
In this webinar, Amy Bolick, FCAN’s Statewide Programs Coordinator, and Kimberly Lent, FCAN’s Senior Research Associate, led a discussion of the 2017-18 FAFSA season updates, strategies for tracking and boosting FAFSA completion, and offered a look at how to get the most out of the FAFSA Challenge data dashboard. Amy and Kimberly were joined by special guest Ralph Aiello — Director, School Counseling, Broward County Public Schools & BRACE (Broward Advisors for Continuing Education) — who shared how Broward’s school district has initiated its own FAFSA Challenge.
October – December: Connecting Education & Jobs in Florida webinar series
Over 60% of future jobs will require some form of postsecondary education or training, but what are the skills needed to fill this demand? What about the various credentials — including college degrees, postsecondary certificates, and industry certifications — that can ensure Florida’s workforce has the skills necessary to be prepared for such jobs?
October 12 — Part 1: Understanding Credentials
During Part I of this three-part webinar series, FCAN and Jeff Strohl, Director of Research with Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce discussed the variety of postsecondary credentials and why some are more valuable in our evolving economy. The webinar also covered the Center’s new estimates of Florida workers who hold a postsecondary certificate that appeared in Lumina’s Stronger Nation report.
November 8 — Part 2: Florida Workforce Trends and Demands
The second webinar in FCAN’s series on Connecting Education and Jobs in Florida featured 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 talking about Florida workforce trends and demands.
December 6 — Part 3: How Partnerships Can Boost Degrees in High-Demand Fields
The third webinar in FCAN’s series on Connecting Education and Jobs in Florida featured 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 discussing 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.
October 18: Rising to the Challenge: Resources and Strategies to Boost FAFSA Completions in Florida
This jam-packed webinar featured some of the nation’s leading experts on FAFSA completion tools, information, resources and strategies. Speakers include:
- Ben Castleman, Professor at the University of Virginia, and Don Yu, Director of former First Lady Michelle Obama’s Better Make Room campaign, addressed evidence-based FAFSA completion strategies and the UP NEXT text messaging service available for college-going students.
- Claire Fluker, Awareness and Outreach Specialist with the U.S. Department of Education Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA), highlighted changes to the 2017-18 FAFSA and the suite of resources made available through FSA.
- Elizabeth Morgan, Director, External Relations with the National College Access Network, discussed the Form Your Future campaign and website geared toward increasing FAFSA completion.
- Lori Auxier, Director of Outreach with the Florida Department of Education’s Office of Student Financial Assistance, covered some of the Florida strategies available for boosting FAFSA completion.
- Troy Miller, FCAN’s Associate Director for Research and Policy, revealed state-level FAFSA completion data and details of the 2016-17 Florida FAFSA Challenge.
September 21: On-Demand Webinar: College Ready Florida
Figuring out how to support students through the college application and financial aid process can be challenging. Florida College Access Network (FCAN) coordinates two statewide initiatives during the fall that can help: Apply Yourself Florida and the Florida FAFSA Challenge. Apply Yourself Florida is an effort to help every high school senior apply to at least one postsecondary institution. The Florida FAFSA Challenge is a campaign to boost the number of seniors completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
FCAN created this free on-demand training webinar for school counselors, educators, and college access professionals interested in coordinating college application and FAFSA activities at their schools. You also have the opportunity to learn about Florida College Decision Day, an event to celebrate seniors for their postsecondary plans.
April 12: Choosing the Right College with College Scorecard
Searching for and selecting the right college can be a daunting task for many students and families, placing a premium on having easy access to clear and reliable data during the college-going process. Michigan College Access Network (MCAN) and Florida College Access Network (FCAN) collaborated for this webinar on the redesigned College Scorecard, a database that provides free, transparent, and nationally comparable data on thousands of colleges and career schools in the United States. This webinar included a presentation from Michael Itzkowitz, Director of the College Scorecard at the U.S. Department of Education, who discussed ways to use this helpful resource.
March 29: Introducing College Ready Florida!
In partnership with schools, districts and community organizations, FCAN has piloted three programs that aim to boost college-going rates for high school seniors:
- Apply Yourself Florida is part of the American College Application Campaign, a national effort to increase the number of first-generation and low-income students pursuing a college degree or other higher education credential, by helping high school seniors navigate the complex college admissions process and ensuring they apply to at least one postsecondary institution (2-year or 4-year college, certificate program, or vocational school).
- Florida FAFSA Challenge strives to boost the number of Florida seniors completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by encouraging schools to set and reach bold but attainable FAFSA completion goals.
- Florida College Decision Day recognizes and celebrates high school seniors for their postsecondary plans and encourages all students to prepare early for college. Held on or around May 1, it coincides with the date when seniors typically must inform colleges of their plans to enroll.
In this webinar, FCAN introduced and offered an overview of its College Ready Florida initiatives:
February 10: FAFSA “Learn and Share” for School Counselors, Advisors, and Community Partners
Did you know tens of thousands of Florida’s high school seniors fail to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), leaving behind over $100 million in Pell Grants each year? Luckily, school counselors, advisors, mentors and other college access professionals across the state are using data, implementing strategies, and setting goals to boost the number of students completing the FAFSA. In this webinar, Florida College Access Network (FCAN) outlined some of the approaches being used in Florida and other parts of the country to help make college affordable for students.
One strategy covered here involves student-level FAFSA completion data, which several school districts began using for the first time in 2016. Lori Auxier, Director of Outreach Services at the Florida Department of Education’s Office of Student Financial Assistance, went over the process for requesting such data from the state and how the data can be used at your local district and schools.
December 9: Announcing the 2016 Florida FAFSA Challenge
Florida College Access Network (FCAN) issued a challenge to all schools and districts to increase FAFSA completion rates by 5% in 2016! FCAN’s research shows that our state’s high school graduates leave behind over $100 million in Pell Grants each year by not completing the form. Helping students complete the FAFSA is a crucial step toward ensuring that finances are not a barrier for academically prepared students looking to attend a college, university or technical school.
Troy Miller, FCAN’s Associate Director for Research and Policy, hosted a panel of experts for a discussion of what strategies and resources are available to help increase FAFSA completion rates in Florida.
November 19: Supporting Florida’s Undocumented Students
In this webinar, Troy Miller, FCAN’s Associate Director for Research and Policy, was joined by the experts listed below for a webinar covering the unique challenges facing Florida’s undocumented students, the resources available to them, and how college access practitioners, advisors, and educators can best support these students in their quest to achieve a postsecondary education. The webinar also offered some tips on how Florida can better recruit, receive, and retain Florida’s undocumented students in higher education:
- Jose Diaz, Executive Director, FL Dream
- Julio Calderon, Access to Higher Education Organizer, Florida Immigrant Coalition
- Gaby Pacheco, Program Director, TheDream US
- Jeannett B Manzanero, Director, Dr. Kathryn W. Davis Global Education Center, Palm Beach State College
October 15: How Can We Help Students Make Better College Decisions?
New America’s College Decisions Survey interviewed over 1,000 prospective and beginning college students, with findings featured in five briefs released during the summer and fall of 2015:
In this FCAN webinar, Rachel Fishman, Senior Policy Analyst at New America’s Education Policy program and author of New America’s College Decisions Survey, and Troy Miller, FCAN’s Associate Director for Research and Policy, discussed the survey’s findings and how they can help policymakers and college access advocates tailor their strategies for greater impact.
September 14: Introducing FloridaShines
In this webinar, FCAN introduced FloridaShines, an online educational service of the Florida Virtual Campus. Florida Virtual Campus (FLVC) has redesigned and rebranded its student-facing online services to better serve K-20 students. The newly launched FloridaShines website provides online access to educational services for high school and postsecondary students throughout the state including:
- Planners, checklists, and an evaluation to see if you’re ready for college
- A searchable database for researching degree programs at Florida colleges and universities
- Career assessments and inventories for planning life after college
Nashla Dawarhe, Coordinator of Advising and Student Services at Florida Virtual Campus, and Troy Miller, FCAN’s Assistant Director for Research and Policy, shared information about the new and improved educational resources for students, parents, counselors and college advisors.
January 2015: It’s FAFSA Season: Let the Funds Begin!
Thousands of Florida graduating high school seniors could qualify for free money for college but don’t because they fail to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). FCAN’s research shows that our state’s high school graduates leave behind over $100 million in Pell Grants each year by not completing the form.
This FCAN presentation featured other FAFSA-related facts and figures that outline why FAFSA completion is important, how many students are Pell eligible, and much more