Notes from the 2016 State University System of Florida Admissions Tour


On Wednesday, August 31, the college advisors at International College Counselors attended the 2016 State University System of Florida Admissions Tour. At this invitation-only event, our team met with officials from all 13 of the Florida public colleges: UF, FSU, UCF, USF, New College, UNF, FAMU, FAU, FGCU, FIU, NCF, UWF, and Florida Poly, in addition to representatives from the companies that administer the ACT and the SAT. After a warm welcome from host Florida Atlantic University, our team learned of innovative programming, admissions trends, critical deadlines and other important information from each school. Some highlights include:

Admissions Information from the Florida Colleges

Each year the Florida state universities put together a matrix with their admission statistics including their middle range for SAT, ACT, GPA, enrollment numbers, percentage accepted, letter of recommendation requirements, and more. For the complete matrix, click here.

Florida Atlantic University (FAU)

Musicians interested in producing an album might want to consider FAU’s music program. To date 22 student albums have been released, and songwriters have had their original work published under the HOOT label. And, for aspiring doctors, FAU’s Med Direct pipeline rewards high achieving high school students with conditional acceptance into FAU’s College of Medicine at the time of admission into undergraduate college. This partnership between FAU’s College of Science and College of Medicine further strengthens FAU’s growth in the field of scientific research, which includes its new and innovative collaboration the Max Plank Institute in Jupiter. 

University of South Florida (USF)

The USF college system, comprised of three campuses with distinct campus cultures, educates more than 43,000 students per year. One claim to fame is that USF is among the most affordable options in the state, with approximately 82% of students receiving some type of financial aid. In recent years, Biomed Science, Engineering, and Psychology majors are growing in popularity; this may account for the increase in GPAs and test scores of USF students: GPA of 4.08, ACT median scores of 26-30 ACT, and new SAT median scores of 1190-1320. Freshman are no longer required to live on campus at USF and USF has implemented a new initiative called Finish in Four to educate students about the benefits of graduating in four years.

For students eager to learn of their acceptance, USF offers rolling admissions, with notification as early as October. Priority deadline is November 1, with a financial aid deadline of January 1. One great piece of information shared is that scholarship and Honors College eligibility will be sent out shortly after application.

University of Florida (UF)

UF is exclusively using the Coalition Application this year. This application, the first year in use, has been designed to engage students in the college application process earlier. Students, as early as 9th grade, can download evidence of learning into their “lockers”. So far, more than 90 leading colleges and universities have joined the Coalition, with more expected to join each year. This year alone, UF has received 443 Coalition applications to date.

In the most recent application period, UF admitted 6,800 students, nearly 42% of students who applied. The median GPA was 4.2-4.5, after recalculation. UF is one of a number of colleges that will recalculate a student’s GPA, based solely on academic courses. This year admitted students had the following median test scores: 1790-2050 SAT; ACT 28-32. As always, UF does not require letters of recommendation or a counselor letter and will be continuing to use the SSAR for student grades. Of note, students do not have to include test scores in the Coalition App.

Deadlines to remember: November 1, applications due, December 1, SSAR due, and December 15, all test scores must be received. FAFSA also due by December 15. Students receiving need-based aid will have their aid award determined within two weeks of the December 15 FAFSA filing date. Admission Decision day this year is February 10.

Beyond admission statistics, what else is happening at UF? Of note is that UF placed 4th in the number of start-up companies created in 2012 (latest figures available). UF has more than 1,000 student organizations, will be re-opening the O’Connell Center in December, along with a new chemistry building this year.

University of West Florida (UWF)

UWF values high impact practices, meaning students are engaged in internships, practicums, study abroad programs, and hands-on experiences.

UWF uses what is known as pooled rolling admission, meaning that your admission decision will be based on the pool of applications received during your particular cycle. And, students will receive admission decisions within 10 days. So, for example, if you apply November 1, you will know by November 10. Like other schools in Florida, UWF will be using the December 15th date as their priority FAFSA deadline.

If you are a National Merit Finalist, you will receive an automatic scholarship. And for the football fans, UWF will have a Division II football program this year.

Florida State University (FSU)

The incoming freshman class of 6,200 students was the most diverse in the school’s history, including 29% of whom were first generation students, 87% in-state; 6% international; 7% out of state. The first admission deadline is October 19, earlier than most of the other SUS schools, leading to the early decision date of December 8. The final admission deadline is January 18, with a March 16 decision date. In all cases test scores must be received by the final deadline date to be used.

For students enrolled in dual enrollment courses please remember to input grades on the SSAR as two semesters. And, use the 32 character code for the second part of the application.

This year’s essays, selected from those on the Common App, should allow FSU to learn more about the students through their responses to one of the three essay prompts. Remember to keep the essay under 650 words. For CARE students, the essay is different, and asks students to share their stories of resilience.

Important deadlines: FAFSA due by December 1 and first award letters will be sent in December.

FSU has three new majors offered by the College of Medicine: Pre-health profession, Community Health Education, and Interdisciplinary Sciences, as well as a new degree: Environment and society. The College of Education will be offering a combined bachelor’s and masters degree which can be completed in five years.

FSU has received a $100 million gift from the Moran Foundation, the largest interdisciplinary entrepreneur school.

New College of Florida

New College of Florida, is the Honors College of Florida, and despite its small size, and despite being a liberal arts college, has the 2nd highest number of STEM field graduates in the state (37%). Eighty percent of New College graduates attend graduate school, and 16% complete PhDs. Their priority deadline is November 1, but April 15 is the deadline for scholarships.

New College, unlike other colleges in the state, will allow a student to try out a course for two weeks, and then change. Likewise, students can try out internships. And because New College encourages exploration, it is not a disadvantage to declare yourself as “undecided”.

Florida Gulf Coast (FGCU)

FGCU, as part of their commitment to student success as measured by graduation rates, has created the SOARin4 program. This program rewards students who graduate within four years and obtain a job within six months of graduation, with a rebate of tuition paid during the freshman year. Furthermore, FGCU has partnered with Raise.Me, a micro-scholarship funding source. This new collaboration, aimed at motivating students while still in high school, rewards them with up to $2,500 a year for individual achievements in grades 9 to 12.

For students who have spent time wishing they could become a forensic scientist, know that this year, FGCU has added a new bachelor’s degree major. Forensic Studies, which integrates crime scene analysis, laboratory analysis, behavioral analysis, and Constitutional Criminal Law will prepare students for advanced scholarship or employment in the field. 

University of North Florida (UNF)

UNF places a greater emphasis on students’ grades than on students’ test scores. As one of the smaller state universities, with nearly 700 admitted freshman in the past year, UNF also has a low student to faculty ratio of 18:1. The most well-known programs at UNF include: transportation and logistics, international business, nutrition, music, nursing, and intercoastal biology. This year community sport and tourism will be added to the lineup of majors.

University of Central Florida (UCF)

UCF, the second largest university in the country, was recently also rated as one of the most innovative universities in the nation by US News and World Report. UCF encourages students to be financially literate and has created the Sensible Knights Program to provide students a firm foundation in financial management.

For students interested in the burgeoning field of cyber security, the UCF Knights are three time back-to-back national champions and ranked #28 in the world. For students interested in global affairs, UCF has built a Global Building, which will act as a home base for studying abroad, learning of other cultures, and for international students. New degrees at UCF include a bachelor’s degree in entertainment management, a career path for business practitioners, not performers. New minors include community sport and fitness, pre-law in humanities, and professional selling.

Regarding admissions, UCF has rolling admissions with notification of decision within a few days. For students interested in STEM, but not particularly strong in math, UCF has several options, including the COMPASS program for students interested, but not committed to STEM.

The Honors College includes 1,700 students and requires a separate application. All students can now use the Common App to apply to UCF, in addition to the institutional application.

Florida Polytechnic University (Florida Poly)

Now in its 3rd year, Florida Poly is the only SUS school devoted to STEM. The school’s first graduates will be graduating this upcoming year and the college is pleased to announce that it has received its Candidate for Accreditation, which means the school can use federal financial aid as well Florida pre-paid funding.

The school is looking for well-rounded students, including evidence of volunteer work and extracurricular activity engagement in their holistic review of applicants. Students must also be strong in math as the first math class is Calculus I. The school has six majors, all in STEM fields. If you know for sure you want to major in STEM, then Florida Poly may be a good fit for you. You can even submit a video using ZeeMee as a part of your application.

Florida International University (FIU)

FIU, one of 36 campuses in the country to be considered a “Change Maker Campus” helps students to solve the problems of our world. FIU is a solution center, asking students to figure out both problems and solutions to those problems. Of the approximately 4,000 freshman, the average GPA was a 3.94, with mean SAT of 1682 and ACT of 25.

The Personalized Education Pathway will allow a student to choose their best fit route to an undergraduate degree, with individualized guidance. The Supported Transition to Excellence Program (STEP) provides students who might need additional support the guidance to achieve success, all on the grounds of a top tier research institution.

Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU)

This year, all applications will be done online, no more paper applications. In the 14 colleges and schools at FAMU, consistently ranked in the Top 10 of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, students can choose from among 56 undergraduate majors. In addition to two separate 100% full-ride scholarships, FAMU will fund other partial scholarships for high achieving students. Known for its highly-regarded pharmacy program, FAMU has added a new major: Masters of Pharmaceuticals, which can be completed in four years.

New Deadlines for the FAFSA

As many of you may be aware, the FAFSA deadlines of many colleges have been changed. How might these new deadlines impact you or your child? In some cases, your child may lose the ability to use federal aid, because of the limited pool of aid available, particularly after the financial aid deadline as passed. As revealed by several colleges with whom we spoke to at the event, it is critical for students to complete the FAFSA on time, and better yet, early. In fact, New College of Florida recommended to us that students complete the FAFSA by Halloween, October 31. Not just for their college, but for every college on your student’s list. UF has a December 15 FAFSA deadline, and will determine a student’s need based aid award within two weeks of that date. Please get your FAFSA applications in early.

GPA: Unweighted, weighted, or none of the above

Students taking Honors, AICE, AP, IB, and Dual Enrollment classes often have different GPAs – a District GPA, Calculated GPA, and State GPA. Often, families focus on the highest number – the Weighted District GPA. However, families need to know that many colleges, including the University of Florida will re-calculate a student’s GPA based solely on core academic courses and the rigor of those core courses.


The expert educational consultants at International College Counselors are dedicated to helping students and their families from across the country and all over the world find, apply to, and gain admission to the college of their dreams. If you would like to learn how to successfully navigate the college admissions process, please contact our expert college advisors at [email protected] or call 954-414-9986.