Young people around Florida face serious obstacles to obtain a higher education degree these days. The state university Board of Governors put into effect a 15% tuition increase at all public universities—the largest hike allowed under the law. The wounded economy caused sparse lending, capped scholarships, and tighter requirements for public funding like the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program.
With the state’s tough job market and steep unemployment stats, the future may seem grim for young people in Florida. Luckily, a glimmer of hope exists in Florida’s vast infrastructure of community colleges. As featured in the Miami Herald, many of Florida’s community colleges have amped up their catalogs by adding four-year degree programs to suit new high-demand careers. Community colleges are now providing opportunities to students unable to take on the major cost of a university education.
Kristen Bell, who is 22, spent two years at Sante Fe Community College (now Sante Fe College) prior to attending University of Tampa, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude in May. Kristen is by the highest standards a dedicated leader and activist on campus and in her community. She spoke to Rock the Vote about the promise of community colleges and the opportunities they offer to young people in Florida:
“It is becoming increasingly difficult to afford school and people are simply dropping out to pay the bills. For someone who wants to receive a degree from a major university like I did, a community college is a great way cut the cost significantly.”
Kristen really likes the quality of education she received at her community college. ”Community colleges are teaching institutions as opposed to research institutions, like major universities. It is a professor’s job, first and foremost, to teach.”
Financially and academically, and socially, Florida community colleges are competing strongly with state universities. Kristen says they’re not all that different:
“At Santa Fe, there were plenty of student activities, just like a four-year university. We have athletic teams, a newspaper and literary journal, student government, young Democrats and Republicans, theater, and volunteer groups. There are so many other ways to get involved, meet people, and make like-minded friends.”
Kristen says she would recommend community college to any Floridian. As young people like her continue to show just how resourceful the millennial generation can be, Rock the Vote wants to make sure you have the resources to participate in your political process. Remember that your vote can make a difference on every issue – from tuition hikes to the oil spill. So if you haven’t already, register to vote here, sign up to volunteer here, and get out to vote this November 2nd.