No More Soar in 4?


Riley Hazel, News and Features

This story has been corrected to reflect the fact the suspension of the FGCU Soar in 4 program is not official.

Florida Gulf Coast University is looking to suspend Soar in 4 pending a re-evaluation of its components and current funding from the university’s Board of Trustees. The incentive program reimburses students’ first year of tuition if they meet a set of requirements.

The Board of Trustees will be discussing the program’s operations at 8:30 a.m. on Sept. 14 in the Cohen Student Union Ballroom. The event will allow for public comments from students and the community.

“Moving forward, our goal is to meet the spirit and the commitment of the Soar in 4 incentive program while also being fiscally responsible in uncertain times,” Pamela McCabe, FGCU’s Coordinator of University Communications & Media Relations said. “The suspension, or operational pause of the program, will allow us to consider alternatives and seek the advice of our Board of Trustees”

Students must declare their major in their first year at FGCU, participate in an internship, graduate in four years and secure a job earning at least $25,000 within six months of graduation, along with several other requirements in order to earn the incentive. There are a number of students who have already completed most of these requirements and are quickly approaching graduation.

“For many of us this is a down payment on a new home or new car, and we have been working our asses off for four years to make this happen,” Alia Judd, a senior at FGCU, said. “And now they’re just going to take it like nothing.”

Judd now runs the Instagram account, @stopfgcu to rally students affected by the potential suspension.

“Although I earned some scholarships, I did have to take out some loans to pay for classes my freshman year.” Allison Noelle, a sophomore at FGCU, said. “By suspending Soar in 4, they are taking away the ability to get a jump start on paying off college debt.”

FGCU is the only school in the State University System of Florida to participate in the Governor’s Challenge Rebate Program, according to McCabe. The university has never received state funding and has instead sought out funding from FGCU’s locally generated revenues. McCabe said that last year, 233 graduates received the tuition rebate, totaling a $1.9 million payout.

While the university website does say that FGCU is not terminating the Soar in 4 program completely, there is already a petition titled “Save Soar in 4” that has over 150 signatures. The FGCU website also says that “many of the questions we are hearing from students and parents are difficult to answer before our Board of Trustees has a chance to weigh in on the matter.” This uncertainty has led to outrage from students who fear that their hard work may have been for nothing.

“This is our future they’re messing with,” Judd said.