Complete Florida aims to help adults complete degree


USF is joining a statewide initiative to assist working adults who have earned some college credit to finish their degrees.

Known as Complete Florida, the program is a product of the University of West Florida’s Innovation Institute. It aims to help adults who have previously earned some college credit to complete their bachelor’s degree.

The program currently offers over 90 degrees and certificates at various universities throughout Florida. The program is expected to launch at USF in spring of 2017.

Students who come to USF through the Complete Florida program will be able to choose from five Bachelor of General Studies (BGS) degrees. Each is fully online, allowing students to complete their degree on their own time. 

William Cummings, associate dean for strategic initiatives at USF, said that the majors within the BGS program were chosen to be of the most benefit to adults already in their careers but hoping to advance professionally.

“(The degrees) are sort of the most workforce-relevant in terms of skills and area,” he said. “We also picked those five because they are fully online, so that also gives students maximum flexibility to complete their degree.”

The BGS program has been available at USF since 2008, but the partnership with Complete Florida will raise awareness of the program and allow students to receive additional opportunities such as college coaching.

Complete Florida’s staff understands that students returning to college may be overwhelmed by the numerous requirements of applying to and restarting school. To remedy this, each student is assigned a free coach from Complete Florida. The coaches assist students with a variety of things, including applications, financial aid and choosing classes.

Cummings said he believes that working adults who take the initiative to go back to college will work hard to finish their degrees in the Complete Florida program.

“We hope that providing that coaching and the advising that students need will help them feel comfortable but … I think students will be more motivated the second time around,” he said.

Students desiring to begin the Complete Florida program must have their associate’s degree, which is equivalent to 60 credit hours. Students who are close to 60 credit hours but have not completed that amount may work with their Complete Florida coaches to earn the final credits before transitioning into the program.

Cummings said the goal of the Complete Florida program is student success, but that a welcome side effect is an improved workforce in the areas where the program is initiated.

“It’s been set up to make it as easy as possible for (working adults) to complete their college degree,” he said. “That’s good for them individually, it’s good for the Tampa Bay area (and) it’s good for the state of Florida to have more educated adults in the workforce.”

Cummings called the program a “second chance” for students who began college and then were unable to complete their degrees.

“It’s an exciting program because it gives students — working adults — a second chance to be successful and to do what they need for their career and their personal fulfillment,” he said.