The Florida Board of Governors launched an online tool this month to help students choose a major at one of the state’s 12 public universities.
The tool, MyFloridaFuture, was mandated in last year’s legislative session by House Bill 1261, which also protected universities from liability lawsuits related to COVID-19, offered tuition in the state to the grandchildren of Floridians and “buy one, get one”. free tuition on select STEM courses.
The tool allows users to compare potential earnings by major and by school 1, 5, and 10 years after graduation. It also shows prospective students the additional earning potential of continuing their education, typical student loan amounts, and expected monthly student debt payments over a 10-year period.
For example, someone with an undergraduate degree in accounting from the University of Florida could expect to earn $69,400 to $113,400 within 5 years of graduation, compared to $56,100 $ to $85,000 in the same time frame with the same degree from the University of South Florida, according to the tool.
Similarly, research using the tool shows that a USF student majoring in anthropology can expect to earn between $35,000 and $57,800, while a USF anthropology graduate UF can expect to earn between $40,600 and $73,000 over the same period.
The data used in the tool is based on numbers from the Florida Reemployment Assistance Program and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity through a federal system known as the State Wage Interchange System. It does not include information on whether graduates are working in the major they studied while studying.
“If a consumer is better informed, they will make better choices,” State University System chancellor Marshall Criser said in an interview.
Adding that this may seem odd from a university perspective, Criser said the tool is something that is in the best interests of young people to make better decisions for their own financial future.
“We recognize that not every student graduating from high school needs to attend a state university to be successful in life,” he said.
Sometimes, he said, a student may have a passion in a certain field, but choosing a similar major over another could lead to a better-paying job.
“MyFloridaFuture will empower Florida students and their families to make knowledge-based decisions to optimize their future success,” Brian Lamb, chairman of the board of governors, said in a press release. “The trajectory of Florida’s 12 public universities in terms of cost per degree, 4-year graduation rate, and graduate earning potential continues to rise, and we are grateful to the Florida Legislature and Governor DeSantis for giving us the opportunity to design an innovative tool that highlights this success and improves a student’s ability to select the right course of study to achieve their career path and maximize their success.
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The tool will also be posted on each university’s website.
Criser said the university system’s governing body has also tried to engage employers more in the conversation to seek out the skills they seek.
“Our business doesn’t create degrees, our business educates students to succeed,” he said. “We made ourselves responsible for finding them a job.”