Non-profit spotlight: Complete Tampa Bay helps locals finish college degrees

Non-profit spotlight: Complete Tampa Bay helps locals finish college degrees

A group of Tampa Bay graduates at graduation
Photo courtesy Complete Tampa Bay

One of the Tampa Bay area’s greatest educational resources isn’t meant for current students. Instead, it’s designed specifically for those who began working on their degree and never finished it.

Complete Tampa Bay, a part of the Leap Tampa Bay college access network, is a program helping former students get back in school and finish their education. The service provides locals with extensive guidance no matter where they are in their journey, offering one-on-one coaching, consistent support, and access to necessary tools.

And the best part: it’s completely free for students with prior college or technical training experience. Complete Tampa Bay’s completion coach, Matt Smith, works with students as he teaches them how to find available education and training options, discover what financial support may be available, access tutoring, and get connected to local college partners that can support their credential completion.

“There is so much to think about when you are going back to school after a significant amount of time,” Smith said. “As a Completion Coach, I assist students with reviewing transcripts, past work experience and future goals. I also help locate resources and act as an advocate as students transition back to college to complete their degree or work certification. My goal is to help adult students return to college and ultimately be successful!”

Complete Tampa Bay is an incredible resource for working adults

Between work, kids, bills, and everything else that life brings along, the idea of adding school to the list of responsibilities can feel daunting at best. To some, it feels downright impossible. But as Complete Tampa Bay points out, putting it off can be costly, and that’s why they provide the resources necessary to help make the experience possible, both in time and money management.

“Over a lifetime, it’s estimated that college grads will earn about a million dollars more than people who’ve only completed high school,” Smith says. “Beyond better pay, an education can unlock doors to careers with other life-changing perks – like healthcare coverage, retirement benefits or greater work/life balance. With a solid plan and the right resources, you can get the education you need to get ahead.”

And of course, with the vast number of colleges and technical institutions in Florida, Complete Tampa Bay provides a pathway to a long list of potential careers. For many, a four-year degree isn’t even necessary, which Complete Tampa Bay’s coaches help students assess. Certificate programs in high-demand fields can help launch careers in everything from firefighting and law enforcement, to health care, information technology, and building and construction.

Those interested in completing their education are simply asked to fill out a brief form, after which a coach from Complete Tampa Bay will contact them to begin the process. Learn more and complete the form on their website here. Interested participants can also contact coach Matt Smith directly at 813-330-2747 or msmith(at)cftampabay.org.

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