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Press Release

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Governor’s Press Office
(850) 488-5394

Governor Crist Applauds Florida Community Colleges for Important Role in State Higher Education System, Economy

TALLAHASSEE – At a reception honoring Florida community college presidents and trustees, Governor Charlie Crist tonight will applaud Florida’s 28 community colleges for their role in continuing to provide affordable access to higher education. He noted that the colleges’ close ties with local labor markets are vital to Florida’s economic development goals.

“Florida’s community colleges enjoy a unique and much-needed role in our state by providing affordable education to students of all ages, including returning students who want to grow, refine and change their careers,” said Governor Crist. “Because of their ability to respond to local labor market needs, our community colleges are uniquely positioned to prepare workers for high-demand occupations that are critical to our economy.”

Florida’s community colleges continue to set a national example, leading the Southeast for the sixth consecutive year in the number of associate’s degrees awarded. Community colleges are the primary point of access to higher education in Florida, with 58 percent of Florida high school graduates who pursue postsecondary education beginning at a community college. Additionally, 81 percent of the freshman and sophomore minority students in public higher education attended one of Florida’s 28 community colleges.

Florida’s community colleges have an open-door admissions policy, providing the opportunity for students who need remediation to get the skills they need for college-level courses. Many of Florida’s community college students are the first in their families to attend college. The colleges also provide an opportunity for veterans and other adult learners to take courses for personal and professional development, or to prepare for a new career.

This year’s event is being sponsored by the Foundation for Florida’s Community Colleges Inc., which provides scholarships to the 28 colleges through an $18 million endowment.

"Our Community Colleges continue to serve our state and students with viable options for any economic climate,” said Commissioner of Education Dr. Eric J. Smith. "Florida’s future depends on having a well educated and highly trained workforce, and I’m proud of the work our Community Colleges have accomplished to ensure student needs are being met.”

Enrollment for the 2008-09 year is more than 850,000, 62 percent of whom enrolled part time. In 2007-08, the community colleges awarded a total of 72,760 degrees and professional certificates. Governor Crist last year signed legislation opening the door for more four-year bachelor’s degree programs at community colleges. A total of 13 community colleges across the state now have approved baccalaureate programs, which continue to have the lowest tuition rates in Florida and among the lowest in the nation. For more information, go to