Foundations Donate $57,000 in Scholarship Money to Valencia College

Valencia College received $57,000 in scholarship funds at the September meeting of Valencia College’s Board of Trustees. The scholarship funds were presented to the college by Randy Hanna, chancellor of the Florida College System, which governs the state’s 28 two-year colleges.

The checks included: $41,000 from the Helios Foundation, designed to provide scholarships for first-generation college students; $4,000 from Bank of America, also designated for first-generation college students; and $12,500 from Florida Blue (formerly Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Florida), for students in Valencia’s allied health majors.

Hanna, who attended the Sept. 18 board meeting at West Campus, praised Valencia officials, faculty and staffers for winning the Inaugural Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence last year. During the selection process for the  2012 Aspen Prize, he boasted that 14 of Florida’s community colleges were named to the top 120 in the nation — and two Florida colleges (Broward College in Fort Lauderdale and Sante Fe College in Gainesville) have been named finalists.

Although Aspen rules prevent Valencia from winning the Aspen Prize this year, Hanna noted that Valencia continues to be a leader both nationally and throughout the state, thanks in part to the college’s high retention rate, excellent pass rate on nursing and other allied health exams and the number of associate degrees that the college awards.  He said that Valencia College last year awarded more associate degrees than all the colleges in five other states — Georgia, Arkansas, Delaware, Louisiana and West Virginia.

“You’re doing good work here,” Hanna told the trustees and college officials.

In other news, Dr. Joyce Romano, vice president of student affairs, announced that enrollment at the college has remained steady.  The number of students taking classes at Valencia this fall is 42,996, down 0.2% or 103 students from the fall semester of 2011. The number of students may increase slightly in coming weeks, however, as students continue to enroll in “flex start” courses.

Romano also noted that 20,934 students are receiving some sort of financial aid (Pell Grants, student loans or scholarships) this fall, down from 21,218 last year. The total aid distributed to students was about $181 million this fall: $100 million in Pell Grants, $70 million in loans and $9.6 million in scholarships and $1.3 million in work-study funds.

Romano also reported that the ethnic makeup of the current student body is 35 percent white, 33 percent Hispanic, 17 percent African-American, 5 percent Asian or Pacific Islander and 12 percent of the students listed their race or ethnicity as “other.”

In other action, the trustees agreed to a change that will allow the college to begin charging students $7 for duplicate copies of technical certificates. The first certificate is free to students, but the college will now charge students for extra copies.

College officials also noted that construction of Building 4 at Osceola Campus is ahead of schedule. The building is slated to open for classes in January 2013.