The Florida Department of Education (FDOE) announced a grant from Helios Education Foundation to enhance enrollment opportunities for Florida College System students.

Phase 1 provides more than $300,000 to finance and “Fast Track” summer courses for 2020 and 2021 high school graduates to enroll in associate degree programs at all 28 state colleges. Phase 2, targeted at enrolling students in fall 2021, will include additional awards exceeding $600,000 and be announced soon.

Administered by the Florida Student Success Center, in partnership with the Florida College System Foundation, the grant will incentivize students to enroll in programs that prepare them to transfer to a four-year institution or entry into employment. In addition to grants to state colleges, the Center will collaborate with the Florida College Access Network (FCAN) and Local College Access Networks (LCANs) to expand the reach of the grant through partnerships with K-12, postsecondary institutions, businesses and community-based organizations. Leveraging existing efforts to promote Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completion, the LCANs will also receive support funding through the grant to promote college enrollment for 2020 and 2021 high school graduates.

Commenting on Helios’ generosity, Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran weighed in on it on Wednesday.

“This generous grant, funded by Helios Education Foundation, will open the door to higher education to students who may think that their dream is out of reach or only for those more financially fortunate – students like me when I was college age. My attendance at my local colleges is truly what set me on the path to success. A special thank you to Helios Education Foundation for their generosity and sincere care for the education of our young people,” Corcoran said.

Helios Education Foundation has invested in the success of Florida’s students, particularly first-generation, low-income, and underrepresented students, since 2006. “The impact of COVID-19 on the high school graduating classes of 2020 and 2021 extended far beyond classroom disruptions. Data on class of 2020 college enrollment indicates a steep decline in first-time college matriculation,” said Paul Luna, the president and CEO of Helios Education Foundation. “In partnership with the Florida College System Foundation and the Florida College Access Network, this grant helps high school graduates from the classes of 2020 and 2021 rise above pandemic-related challenges, enroll in postsecondary education and benefit from the transformational power of education.”

In assessing the potential impact of the scholarship, Florida College System Chancellor Kathy Hebda offered her take on the support.

“This scholarship helps students start right now in AA and AS degree-seeking pathways that are uniquely available in our Florida College System. Florida’s 2+2 system of matriculation from a state college to a state university is still the envy of the nation. We are excited to partner with Helios Education Foundation to help high school seniors realize that their path to success is close to home. I encourage our seniors and graduates from the class of 2020 who have not yet started college to contact their local college’s financial aid office and take that first step today,” Hebda said.

Florida Daily
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