Valencia College and UCF are embarking on a new strategic partnership to boost transfer student success, funded by a $1.3 million grant from the Helios Education Foundation.

Led by the UCF/Valencia Improving Student Success Task Force, the new pilot program will provide additional support to students before and after their transfer from Valencia to UCF.

“The Helios grant presents a real opportunity for us to improve students’ readiness to transfer to UCF and shorten the amount of time needed to graduate with a bachelor’s degree,” says Valencia College President Kathleen Plinske.

“DirectConnect to UCF is an important pathway to help students earn life-changing bachelor’s degrees and become part of the talent pipeline that fuels Central Florida’s industries,” says UCF President Alexander N. Cartwright. “Thanks to the support of the Helios Foundation, more students will be well-prepared to launch or advance their careers faster, jump-starting innovation and serving our community.”

The new grant will support Valencia College DirectConnect transfer students in the Fall 2023, Spring 2024 and Summer 2024 semesters, and provide them with Helios-funded incentives for the following:

  • $500 toward the completion of up to three courses at Valencia to complete the common program prerequisites aligned with a student’s degree pathway
  • $250 for having completed an Associate in Arts degree and the common program prerequisites prior to transfer to UCF
  • $500 financial aid award for part-time students to continue their studies at UCF part-time and supplement their financial aid in the transition from Valencia to UCF

Additionally, Valencia students will be encouraged to participate in a S.E.E. UCF tour, which stands for Students Early Exploration, with food and transportation provided. In addition to the financial incentives, the grant will cover program costs, staffing and data analysis for the length of the grant.

Using data from the Central Florida Educational Ecosystem Database (CFEED) and based on a Fall 2022 pilot which focused on students transferring to UCF’s College of Business, Valencia and UCF have identified multiple interventions to increase the success of transfer students between their institutions. The Helios grant will be used to expand the pilot and serve transfer students within all programs.

“Helios Education Foundation’s investment in DirectConnect provides Central Florida students both on-campus and financial supports to ensure completion of their Valencia College degree as the first step toward completion of a bachelor’s degree at UCF,” says Paul Luna, president and CEO of Helios Education Foundation.

The DirectConnect to UCF partnership is recognized as one of the leading transfer programs in the country. Since its inception in 2006, more than 42,000 UCF bachelor’s degrees have been awarded to Valencia College students, accounting  for nearly a quarter of UCF’s baccalaureate graduates.