Foundation series

UCF is one of 3 Florida universities to receive a Lumina Foundation grant to improve transfer student success

The Lumina Foundation has awarded the Florida Consortium of Metropolitan Research Universities – which includes UCF, Florida International University (FIU) and the University of South Florida (USF) – $400,000 to reduce transfer shock, shorten the time graduation and align curriculum for transfer students.

The initiative aims to help more than 5,000 transfer students complete their studies in two years by 2027. This includes more than 2,000 Hispanic students, nearly 700 black students, and more than 3,000 additional Pell-eligible students. The transferred population is racially diverse, with more than half identifying as non-white and approximately 62% eligible for the Pell Grant. This work increases the chances of graduating more fairly. It also builds on a goal to expand transfer student success through a $1.25 million Helios Education Foundation grant awarded to the Florida Consortium of Metropolitan Research Universities in July 2021.

The new funding will help continue UCF’s commitment to supporting transfer student success by removing or reducing barriers. In 2021-22, approximately 10,000 transfer students attended UCF, which has the most transfer students of any public university in Florida. Since 2006, UCF has provided affordable pathways to nearly 67,000 degrees for students through DirectConnect to UCF, a partnership program that guarantees admission to UCF for students with an associate degree or an articulated degree from one of six partner state colleges.

“As a consortium, we believe transfer students do better when we provide accurate, up-to-date information and empower them to make informed choices about their education,” says Michael Preston, executive director of the Florida Consortium of Metropolitan Research Universities. “That’s why we’re focusing on self-service tools that allow students to explore their options and then choose when to speak with an academic advisor or coach. The right information, in the right dose, at the right time.

This work draws on insights from the Central Florida Education Ecosystem Database (CFEED) which leverages data science and predictive analytics to identify interventions that amplify student success. Each university identified barriers unique to their metro area, from admissions to sequencing courses to clearly defining a path to completion. CFEED defines transfer shock as a 0.5 drop in a student’s GPA in the first semester after joining a state university system.

USF leads the work as part of the Florida Consortium Transfer Success Network. The technologies created from this funding will lead to a public-facing tool focused on the three universities working with 16 Florida College System partners.

The funding will also help coordinate a series of symposia with key decision makers from the three universities and partner state colleges.

Only 29.1% of Floridians have earned their bachelor’s degree, which ranks 31st in the United States Supporting transfer students is key to increasing this percentage and nurturing Florida as a talent pool with a dramatic increase in the production of bachelor’s degrees.

Earlier this year, the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities selected UCF for its new Transfer Student Success and Equity Intensive program. The program aims to ensure that students from communities disproportionately affected by the pandemic can access, persevere and achieve their higher education aspirations.

Recently, UCF also opened a new transfer center at Trevor Colbourn Hall and a new website will also help students virtually.

The Florida Consortium of Metropolitan Research Universities partners in a transfer success network with the Lumina Foundation, along with additional support from the Helios Education Foundation, to elevate first-generation student success and graduation, minority and underserved in the most populated metropolitan areas of South Florida, Central Florida and Tampa Bay.