Florida International University (FIU) was founded with the mission of providing access in higher ed. With a student body comprised of nearly 50% first-generation degree seekers, this is a mission FIU is still committed to today. Recognized by U.S. News & World Report as a top performer in social mobility and innovation, FIU makes it possible by engaging with students earlier and more meaningfully through RaiseMe Enrollment—aiding in the recruitment and support of a diverse freshmen class.
For first-generation, low-income, and historically excluded students, financial barriers are the number one obstacle to their college degree. 60% of students reported eliminating a college from their search process based on published costs. This is a trend that Jody Glassman, Assistant Vice President of Enrollment & University Admissions at FIU, has seen firsthand, “A lot of times kids just shut down, they stop thinking about college and a college degree because they believe they can’t afford it.”
To increase enrollment and achieve goals established by the State metrics, enrollment and financial aid teams are tasked with showing students there is an affordable pathway to earning a degree. With a goal of serving first-gen and historically underrepresented populations, FIU sought out a solution to show this is a top priority for the institution.
Finding Bold Student Financial Success Solutions
Jody and her team at FIU believe in leading with bold action. That means implementing innovative ideas and solutions that give the school an edge. That’s exactly what FIU did in 2016 when they became the first Florida public institution and one of the first 100 schools to implement RaiseMe Enrollment. “That tends to be the way that we do things in enrollment management services and at FIU,” Glassman said, “We look for partners and resources that will really help our students. And we look for things across different student populations that are new and not what everyone else is doing.”
The role of her enrollment management team, according to Glassman, is to find a balance between access, equity, and success for students. “A big part of what we do is look for ways to remove finances as a barrier to a higher education,” said Glassman. That mission is reflected in FIU’s student body and the institutional commitment to affordability for students.
As a Hispanic serving institution, FIU serves over 54,000 students—more than 50% of incoming first-year students at FIU receive a Pell Grant and more than 60% of those Pell Grant recipients go on to graduate from FIU within 6 years or less. As part of FIU’s Golden Promise program, students with an estimated family contribution of $0 have the entirety of their tuition and fees paid through grants and scholarships.
Supporting students in need requires solutions that attract, engage and move students through the enrollment funnel. As part of the CampusLogic Student Financial Success platform, RaiseMe Enrollment empowers FIU to purposefully curate a diverse and highly motivated class of students. This happens by engaging with students as early as ninth grade and incentivizing college readiness behaviors through micro-scholarships.
The students who engage with FIU on RaiseMe mirror the student populations they are working to create access for, with 82% of their followers identifying as non-white, 49% qualifying for free or reduced lunch programs and 41% identifying as first-generation students.
Showing Students a Pathway to Their Degree
Nothing in enrollment management at FIU happens in a silo. They think of recruitment and retention as coupled and that mindset exists across the entire campus. Working with various academic departments, Glassman and her team created college readiness programs within high school partners and state college partners.
Communications about RaiseMe Enrollment along with workshops and dual enrollment programs play a significant role in those partnerships, helping FIU educate high school students earlier in their academic careers by displaying affordability and the benefits of college readiness activities.
As part of partnership program with Miami Dade county high schools, The Education Effect, FIU worked with schools identified as low performing to get students signed up on RaiseMe and keep them engaged to succeed in school. As students performed well in class and participated in extracurriculars, they were rewarded with micro-scholarships. Glassman described the appeal for students, “RaiseMe added a level of gamification that kept students excited and engaged and wanting to do more.”
Bringing Diverse, Motivated Students onto Campus
Each year, FIU reevaluates the micro-scholarship earning opportunities they make available to students through RaiseMe Enrollment to align with activities that are valuable to the campus and local communities as well as the student. As a university focused on community support, they offer a custom scholarship portfolio to students, including rewards for participation in local community organizations such as a Miami-Dade County-based mentorship program, 5000 Role Models. This level of tailoring allows FIU to celebrate the things their students are already doing while encouraging other students to get involved in service that will develop leaderships skills.
Beyond coming to campus more prepared academically and service-minded, Glassman says RaiseMe Enrollment students are more financially prepared, “One of the things I see with RaiseMe students is that they don’t get to campus and ask ‘do you have any scholarships?’ At the last minute. They are students who are really well prepared because they’ve been doing this all along. They understand where the scholarship money comes from and they have been more engaged in the process from a young age.”