USF Works to Make College Dreams a Reality

USF supports first-generation, low-income and underserved college-bound students.



Jacqui Cash, Provost’s Office



TAMPA, Fla. (Aug. 9, 2010) – Young people in all socioeconomic groups have college aspirations. But, despite these aspirations, low-income students and those who are the first in their families to pursue higher education are severely under-represented on college campuses. According to the College Board, high-achieving students from low-income families have about the same chance of enrolling in college as low-achieving students from wealthier families. And for those students who make it to college, they often do not find supportive college environments, noted by a recent USA Today article stating that 89 percent of low-income, first-generation students leave college within six years without a degree.


The University of South Florida is working to change these trends, and those efforts are recognized in the Center for Student Opportunity’s 2011 College Access & Opportunity Guide, a comprehensive college guidebook designed to help students from first-generation, low-income, and otherwise underserved backgrounds makes their college dreams a reality.


The guide is published by Sourcebooks, a leader in college guides and study aids, and credits USF for its many programs that help recruit, admit, enroll and support students historically underrepresented in higher education. Those programs include:


·         Access USF is an on-campus program to help high school students understand the college admissions process and financial aid opportunities.


·         History of Achievement scholarship awards recognize select students from diverse ethnic backgrounds who have achieved above-average academic records in high school while facing significant socioeconomic, educational, cultural or personal challenges.


·         Project Thrust supports minority students at USF through advising and counseling tailored to fit the individual needs of students.


·         Freshman Summer Institute and Student Support Services programs provide access to a university education for promising students from first-generation and limited-income families.


·         Office of Multicultural Affairs promotes a diverse and inclusive campus environment through programs, activities, workshops and resources available to USF students, faculty, staff and the Tampa Bay community.


·         ENLACE is a community-focused outreach program that forms a partnership between USF, local education agencies and Hispanic community organizations to support students’ educational endeavors from middle school through college.


“USF is committed to offering programs and services that support the university’s mission of academic excellence and the ethic of community responsibility,” said Ralph Wilcox, provost and executive vice president at USF. “Inclusion in the 2011 College Access & Opportunity Guide is just one of the many ways we are working to ensure students and their families have access to relevant information they need when choosing a college that is positioned to help students realize their fullest academic potential.”


The 2011 guide profiles 284 four-year colleges and universities which exemplify a superior commitment to college access and retention of first-generation, low-income and historically underserved college-bound students. In addition to the profiles of the featured institutions, the guide includes advice from college students and education experts and a four-step plan developed by KnowHow2Go, a national college access campaign. The plan outlines the four basic steps necessary for first-generation and other under-represented students to go to college:


1)     Be a pain Let everyone know that you’re going to college and need their help.


2)     Push yourself Working a little harder today will make getting into college even easier.


3)     Find the right fit Find out what kind of school is the best match for you and your career goals.


4)     Put your hands on some cash If you think you can't afford college, think again. There's lots of aid out there.


Profiled colleges and universities partner with Center for Student Opportunity to build awareness of their institution and its college access programs, recruit qualified and motivated first-generation and other traditionally underserved college-bound students, and improve outreach, recruitment and retention efforts aimed to serve and support first-generation and underserved students on their campuses. Through this partnership, USF is joining the other institutions in the guide to sponsor a free distribution of the 2011 College Access & Opportunity Guide to high schools and community organizations nationwide. The book is also available for sale through the Center for Student Opportunity website.


“We want to show students and their supporters that the opportunity for college is there,” said Matt Rubinoff, executive director of Center for Student Opportunity. “The 2011 College Access & Opportunity Guide is a special resource that provides guidance through the college process and delivers important information on college programs aimed to serve low-income, first-generation college students.”


All of the colleges and universities in the 2011 College Access & Opportunity Guide are also featured on Center for Student Opportunity’s College Center website, an online clearinghouse of college programs and admissions information serving first-generation and historically underserved college-bound students. Students, families, and counselors can use CSO’s College Center to gain valuable insight and advice throughout the college application process, further their research on available college programs aimed to serve students like them, and register an academic profile to send to colleges and universities of interest.


About the University of South Florida

The University of South Florida is one of the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of only 25 public research universities nationwide with very high research activity that is designated as community engaged by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.  USF was awarded $380.4 million in research contracts and grants in FY 2008/2009. The university offers 232 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine. The USF System has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 47,000 students on institutions/campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.


About the Center for Student Opportunity

Center for Student Opportunity (CSO) is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting higher education opportunities for first-generation and other historically underserved college-bound students. CSO programs serve colleges and universities, counselors, and community-based organizations in support of their college access goals. More information about CSO is available at

About KnowHow2GO

KnowHow2GO is a national public service campaign designed to inform young people about the actual steps they need to take to make their college dreams a reality. The campaign includes television, radio, print, outdoor and interactive advertising. It is sponsored nationally by the American Council on Education, Lumina Foundation for Education and the Ad Council. For more information visit

About Sourcebook

Sourcebook is a forward-thinking, independent publishing house with a passion for books and a dedication to the belief that books change lives. We are committed to innovative publishing, where every book is personal and every author’s voice has a place. We are a group of passionate, energetic and enthusiastic book lovers, and we are committed to helping readers experience each book. Sourcebook stands today as the largest woman-owned independent book publisher in North America.