Student Success: $200 Million

 

At UCF, our first concern is with making the university accessible and affordable to as many deserving students as possible and then ensuring their academic progress, personal development, and career readiness. As part of IGNITE, we seek $200 million in philanthropic commitments to support scholarships, programs, and initiatives that directly benefit both current and future Knights by advancing five key goals:

Expand Access

 

At UCF, we expand access by meeting students where they are, based on who they are. Innovative new pathways to and through higher education broaden opportunity without diluting quality. 

We are committed to expanding access by creating new means of entry and success for students who have the potential to excel but are unable to follow traditional pathways to and through college. Consider the DirectConnect to UCF program, for example, which guarantees admission to students completing two-year degrees at one of UCF's six partner colleges throughout Central Florida.

Recognized nationally as a model program, it gives students who can't gain immediate admission to UCF -- because of finances, family or job commitments, high school academic performance or other obstacles -- the opportunity to demonstrate that they can succeed at the university level.

By unlocking untapped human potential in populations that otherwise might not get the opportunity to realize it, such alternative pathways to success -- which also include regional campuses for location-bound students, cutting-edge online and blended learning options, and special support programs for first-generation, transfer, minority and veteran students -- can positively impact not just students and their families but also the entire region.

UCF urgently needs philanthropic support to reach still more promising students; to better evaluate and meet those students' unique needs once they arrive on campus; and to help them afford tuition and living expenses while still concentrating on their studies.

As part of IGNITE, we seek $200 million in philanthropic commitments to support scholarships, programs, and initiatives that directly benefit current and future Knights.


Cathy Gutierrez '14 might not have made it through college via the traditional route. But thanks to DirectConnect to UCF, she was able to transfer from Valencia College to UCF where she earned two bachelor's degrees. She's now enrolled at Harvard Medical School. 

Fund Scholarships

 

At UCF, we fund student scholarships to negate socio-economic background as a predictor of graduation. No promising student should ever fail to graduate because he or she runs out of money. 

Providing a range of innovative pathways by which promising students can find success in the university environment is only part of the formula for unlocking human potential that might otherwise remain dormant. Those students must also find a means to afford their education -- and to afford it without working so hard to pay the bills that their studies suffer.

Studies have shown that even when two American college students have nearly idential test scores and grades, the one with the higher family income is far more likely to graduate. Among high-achieving students with SAT scores over 1200, those from families earning incomes in the bottom 25 percent are only half as likely to graduate college as their higher family-income counterparts. 

Currently we are only able to meet about two-thirds of our students' demonstrated need. Need-based scholarships, funded through contributions, can help close the gap, enabling promising studentsto pursue their dreams and aspirations, while also helping reduce student debt and further strengthening UCF's growing academic reputation.

“These scholarships don’t just impact student nurses; they positively impact the communities we live in. Each one of these students will become a nurse with a world-class education. And each one will care for, on average, 1,200 patients a year. Let’s say we work for 40 years. That’s an average of nearly 50,000 people we’ll care for over the course of each of our careers. By investing in us, you create a ripple effect of positivity and good works.”

—Shannon Hassett ’16, speaking to donors at a UCF College of Nursing luncheon

Attract the Best and Brightest

 

At UCF, we attract the best and brightest students by offering incentives like prestigious scholarships. When academic superstars come to UCF, their peers, the university, and the region benefits. 

The high school GPAs and standardized test scores of incoming students have long been used as a factor in ranking American colleges and universities. Better students choose better schools, the thinking goes, so the higher average GPA of the entering class, the more valuable the education offered by the institutiion.

We are proud of UCF's steady climb in annual rankings like those published in U.S. News & World Report. Still, rankings aren't the real reason we seek to recruit and best and brightest students.

We want those students because we think we can offer them an education as valuable as any they'll find. And because they strengthen the university's academic reputation, and enhance the academic environment for their fellow students. We believe that there's a good chance those superstars will work and live in Central Florida after graduation.

Attracting academic superstars to public universities isn't easy. To compete against elite colleges, UCF must offer incentives like scholarships. 


University-wide, the average GPA for incoming freshman in fall 2015 was 4.00, up from 3.92 the year before, while in The Burnett Honors College, it was an incredible 4.4. And, in fall 2015, 277 National Merit Scholars were studying at UCF, second most among Florida's public universities. 

Enrich the Experience

 

We enrich the university experience through expanded campus programming, service learning opportunities and study abroad. Some of the most valuable learning takes place outside the classroom. 

At UCF, conventional coursework is only the beginning. Experiential learning, service-learning and international study give students the chance to turn what they've been taught in classrooms and laboratories into the kind of experiences that shape their characters and their lives -- often while helping others in profound ways.

Through Community Nursing Coalitions, for example, teams of UCF nursing students have provided more than 30,000 hours of service across Central Florida, while the Knights Without Borders program sends student-athletes abroad to volunteer in developing regions. Students of all disciplines in The Burnett Honors College make yearly service-learning trips to South Africa and Nicaragua.

Not enough Knights are able to benefit, because travel abroad is cost-prohibitive for many. Participating in local service-learning programs, too, can be difficult for those with job obligations.

Private support of education enrichment programs is a near-perfect example of the power of private philanthropy to make a transformational impact at public universities like UCF, when funding for such experiences is often lacking. 

 


Every summer, an interdisciplinary team of UCF medical, nursing, pharmacy and engineering students spends a week rendering badly needed care, counseling and aid in some of the Dominican Republic's most impoverished villages. Private philanthropy helps many students afford the trip.

Prepare Students for Careers 

 

At UCF, we prepare students for rewarding careers by bolstering experiential learning opportunities and expanding career readiness programs. A UCF degree is not an end in itself; it is only the beginning. 

It is no surprise that for four straight years, UCF has been ranked among the top three Florida public universities when it comes to employment rates and wages of graduates. In fact, since its founding in 1963 , UCF has continued to focus on preparing students for successful careers.

More than 20,000 students each year gain valuable practical experience through co-ops, internships, and other career-oriented learning experiences. The university's Career Services office helps 30,000 students a year search and compete for jobs.

The areospace and defence industries recruit more graduates from UCF than any other university in the country. And graduates in the non-STEM areas are in high demand thanks in part to the university's focus on practical, hands-on education. 

Philanthropic support of career services, career-oriented learning experiences and on-campus resources has immediate and long-term benefits for UCF. 

 

© University of Central Florida Foundation, Inc. 2015