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

The initiative aims to assist more than 5,000 transfer students in completing their degrees 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 student completions. The transfer population is racially diverse, with over half identifying as non-white, and approximately 62% are Pell Grant-eligible. This work increases the opportunity for more equitable degree attainment. It also builds on a goal to expand transfer student success through a $1.25 million grant from the Helios Education Foundation awarded to the Florida Consortium of Metropolitan Research Universities in July 2021.

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

“As a Consortium, we believe transfer students are more successful when we provide accurate and up-to-date information and allow them to make smart choices about their education,” says Michael Preston, executive director, Florida Consortium of Metropolitan Research Universities. “That is why we focus 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.”

Informing this work are insights from the Central Florida Education Ecosystem Database (CFEED) that leverages data science and predictive analytics to identify interventions that amplify student success. Each university has identified hurdles unique to their metropolitan regions, from admissions to course sequencing to clearly outlining a pathway to completion. CFEED defines transfer shock as a drop of .5 in a student’s GPA in the first semester after articulating to a state university system.

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

The funding will also assist in coordinating a series of symposiums with key decision-makers from all three universities and state college partners.

Only 29.1% of Floridians have attained their bachelor’s degree, which ranks 31st in the U.S. Supporting transfer students is key to increasing this percentage and fuel Florida as a talent pipeline with a sizable increase in baccalaureate degree production.

Earlier this year the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities selected UCF as part of its new Transfer Student Success and Equity Intensive. The program aims to ensure students from communities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic can access, persist through and realize their higher education aspirations.

Recently UCF also opened a new Transfer Center in Trevor Colbourn Hall and a new website will also assist students virtually.

The Florida Consortium of Metropolitan Research Universities is partnering on a Transfer Success Network with Lumina Foundation, along with additional support from Helios Education Foundation, to elevate the success and degree completion of first-generation, minority and underserved students in the most populous metropolitan regions of South Florida, Central Florida and Tampa Bay.