ORLANDO, Fla. – The University of Central Florida on Wednesday announced a record $40 million investment in a new scholarship fund designed to help students graduate in four years and reduce student loan debt.
President Dale Whittaker's belief that students should be able to earn a college degree despite financial shortcomings led to the creation of the Constellation Fund.
"It's an investment in our students. It's an investment in our future," Whittaker said.
The goal for the new fund is to be able to provide financial aid to students who are at risk of not being able to afford the classes they need to graduate, students who need short-term assistance to overcome a financial hurdle and students who have to take on extra hours at work and therefore can't take as many classes.
By Feb. 1, a task force will be assembled to develop a plan for identifying eligible students and distributing the money. The goal is to begin rewarding scholarships as early as the spring 2019 semester.
“There’s no better tool than a college degree when it comes to advancing your future or your family’s future,” Whittaker said. “Our commitment to excellence means investing in all of our students’ success, because we know this investment will impact thousands of lives now and in the future while lifting our community and the state.”
The money will also be used to reduce debt for students who would otherwise have to take out loans and to fund additional graduate fellowships.
Data analytics will be used to identify students who are most at risk of not graduating and the school will notify them directly if they are awarded a scholarship, meaning students do not need to contact the financial aid office to apply.
Officials hope the new fund will help improve UCF's four-year graduation rate and attract high-caliber students while still keeping the cost of earning a degree low.
"The goal is for more students to be able to finish what they've started, to attract strong students from all over the country to UCF, and to make sure that the students we have have financial stability so they can get that degree and get started with their lives," Whittaker said.
For more information about the Constellation Fund, click here.