A program headquartered at the University of West Florida is trying to help veterans complete their college degrees. Complete Florida is a statewide initiative sponsored by the Florida legislature to recruit and retain the state's 2.2 million adults with some college and no degree.
Implemented through a partnership of eleven public and private higher education institutions across the state, the program helps people who have some college credit complete the work needed for their degrees.
Advisors, or coaches, are provided to guide people through every step of the various programs involved. “Complete Florida has a great coaching staff, and that is to me truly the lynch pin and difference between our programs and any other program out there,” said Marc Churchwell Director of Operations for Complete Florida. “Truly the coaches are key to our success and the key to so many of our students’ successes as they go through the University of West Florida.”
Now, the program is putting an added emphasis on veterans for Complete Florida Military. "Complete Florida is state legislative program funded by the state...and the language within that bill specifically says ‘with a focus on military and veterans".
Complete Florida Military is funded primarily by the Florida Defense Support Task Force and through scholarship donations. The scholarship funds are focused on the Panhandle and Jacksonville areas of the state to drive job into that regions, focusing on cyber security and IT positions. The programs are offered in four different institutions in the area including UWF.
Complete Florida Military is being aggressively marketed to area veterans. Program Manager Ed Boegle is a retired Army Colonel and former Science Officer for the University of West Florida ROTC Program has been traveling to collages and military bases around the region talking to veterans as well as active duty members and handing out materials about the program.
The program’s reach includes, but is not limited to, coaching to help military students determine benefits and make informed decisions; scholarships in the Northwest Florida and Jacksonville areas; fully online degree programs, certificates and certifications in information technology and cyber security.
Unlike Complete Florida, which is a degree completion program for students who have some college credit but never finished the work required for a degree; Veterans and active military personal do not need to have any previous college experience to qualify for Complete Florida Military.
The benefits of Complete Florida Military are over and above any GI Bill benefits, so you can qualify for both. "Fortunately here we have the Military and Veterans' Resource Center at the University of West Florida, full of technical experts to help you navigate (the various different benefit systems)."
Complete Florida Military is a brand new program. "Four or five years from now we'd love to have two, three thousand people through these programs" said Churchwell. He says the potential is there will fill a need for the many cyber security and other computer based positions down the road.