Florida Colleges and Universities

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Florida Colleges:
A School for Every Student

The outlook is certainly bright for graduates in the Sunshine State.

With 28 public colleges and 62 campuses statewide, Florida provided education to 900,000 students in the 2009-2010 academic year. Compared to those without a degree, job opportunities, quality of life and annual salaries are all better with an associate degree or bachelor's degree from an accredited Florida college.

Colleges and Universitiesin Florida

While many of us picture college students to be recent high school graduates, the average student age is actually 25 years old in Florida. 41 percent of Florida College System students are minorities, and female enrollment was a whopping 59 percent in 2010. What's even more impressive is that Florida ranks number one among the sixteen southern states in degree production. Furthermore, in 2010, the Florida College System pledged to double the number of its graduates by the year 2020.

Independent colleges, trade schools and occupational institutions

Florida's private trade schools, colleges and universities offer students the opportunity to achieve a degree in virtually any field. These accredited programs provide specialized training in everything from art, cooking and cosmetology, to criminology, technology and accounting.

Community college and two-year schools

According to the Florida College System's Annual Report 2011, incomes one year after graduation increase 50 percent or more for students who earn an associate degree or a credential relative to the incomes of a high school graduate. With 9 community colleges, the two-year institutions in Florida are widely recognized as some of the best in the nation. One notable example is North Florida Community College (NFCC), which was named one of America's top 50 best community colleges in the Washington Monthly magazine's 2010 College Rankings edition.

Public four-year universities

With 8 colleges and 11 "state" universities in Florida, a quality higher education is within reach for the state's students. While the cost of tuition is higher for four-year schools than at community colleges, financial aid is readily available. Nearly $70 million was awarded through the State of Florida's Bright Futures scholarship program, which awarded an average of $1,575.20 to more than 44,000 public higher education students in the 2009-2010 academic year.

The benefits of a Florida college degree

While the Florida unemployment rate of individuals with less than a high school diploma was nearly 15 percent in 2010, that number was more than cut in half--to 7 percent--for graduates with an associate's degree. What's more, for those with a bachelor's degree, the unemployment rate is just 4.7 percent.

As if job security weren't enough, in May 2010, the average annual income in Florida was $40,270. That's slightly higher than the national average of $39,884 (or $767 per week, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics) for those with an associate degree. With a bachelor's degree, the average American stands to earn even more than that--nearly $54,000 per year (or $1,083 per week).

Employment outlook

Although the overall unemployment rate in Florida was 10.6 percent as of June 2011, the state reported a gain of 53,000 jobs since June 2010. That increase of 0.7 percent shows that although recovery is relatively slow, the employment outlook is improving with each job added to Florida's economy.

That growth is projected to continue as well. According to the State of Florida, there were more than 7.8 million jobs in Florida in 2010. That number is projected to increase to nearly 9 million by 2018. With a student body made up of people of all ages and backgrounds, Florida offers a higher educational opportunity for all.


Mackenzie Quinn is a marketing professional with nearly eight years of technical and educational writing experience. She has a bachelor's degree from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and has continued her education in both classroom and online post-graduate courses.

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