FAU selected as finalist for graduation rate award

The APLU picked the university as a top three finalist for their annual award for improved graduation rates.


December 2014. Photo by Max Jackson

Gillian Manning, Editor-in-Chief

On Oct. 19, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) named FAU as a top-three finalist for its 2021 Degree Completion Award.

The APLU annually recognizes universities that utilize “innovative approaches” to increase degree completion rates. It is an advocacy group with 244 public research universities in its membership. All universities in their membership are eligible for the award.

“FAU has launched a comprehensive plan to address equity gaps, advance student success, and increase the university’s graduation rate,” the APLU wrote in its nomination announcement.

The APLU referenced the university’s academic “flight plans” as an example of success. Flight plans are guides for students on what classes they need to graduate in their degree programs. FAU implemented them with the goal that they help students stay on track for timely graduation.

FAU reported that the graduation rate has increased by 28% in six years. In 2014, the four-year graduation rate was 19.3% and in 2020 it was 47.5%. 

The National Center for Education Statistics reported that in 2014, FAU had 31,234 undergraduate students enrolled. In 2020, 30,805 students enrolled in the fall semester. 

“I am so proud of what we’ve accomplished in just the last few years,” FAU President John Kelly told the News Desk. “When I became president, the graduation rate was one of the most daunting challenges I faced. I’ve worked every day since then to instill a sense of urgency, and we achieved much, especially with historically underserved students.”

Other finalists for the award include Florida State University and the University of Illinois Chicago.

“Public universities have made progress in increasing college access, equity, and completion, but the need for faster and greater progress is clear,” said APLU President Peter McPherson in a statement. “Florida Atlantic University, Florida State University, and University of Illinois Chicago serve as important examples of how public universities can implement effective institution-wide efforts to advance student success and completion.”

The APLU will announce the winner during its annual meeting from Nov. 15 through Nov. 17. 


Gillian Manning is the editor-in-chief at the University Press. To contact her about this or other stories, you can email her at [email protected] or through Instagram @gillianmanning_.