Best Colleges in Florida

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Florida provides blue skies, clear weather and an excellent environment for post-secondary education. Its robust state university system and sprawling system of two-year schools provides tremendous choices.

Options for degree seekers include famous names like the University of Florida and Florida State. Excellent private schools also abound, like Trinity Baptist College and Stetson University. Florida’s community colleges and trade schools provide a fast track to any number of excellent professional opportunities.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with so many choices and so much data. Fortunately, we have applied our rigorous methodology to the latest education data to rank the best colleges in Florida, including the top four-year and two-year schools. It pulls information from federal databases and includes acceptance, enrollment, and graduation rate. State data covers important things like student loan default rate.

Florida features some of the most famous and best-ranked schools in the country, including the likes of the University of Florida, Florida State and the University of Miami.

Students looking for a religious education pursue options like the Baptist College of Florida, the Hindu University of America and the Talmudic University of Florida to meet their spiritual needs. Aspiring creative professionals look to Fullsail University for training in video game design or film and television.

Admission standards at famous schools can be rigorous. Florida State, for example, admits only 55% of students that apply. The average high school GPA for incoming FSU students is 3.92, as reported by Princeton Review, so academic excellence is required.
Students in need of a more budget-friendly option should be careful. Funding troubles hit low-performance schools as part of the state’s new performance-based funding scheme. This may mean reductions in state funding and financial aid for students in affected schools. With these factors in mind, review this year’s finalized list of the best 4-year schools in Florida.

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Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1 University of Florida 89.96 85% Gainesville, FL

Taking the top spot in our ranking of the best colleges in Florida is UF. Offering more than 300 different degree paths at the undergraduate and graduate level -- alongside 30 certificate programs -- the university ensures that every student has the chance to find their passion. Undergrad students choose from courses covering African-American studies, classics, medieval and early modern studies, and veterinary medical sciences, among others. UF students may choose to take part in the school's unique Innovation Academy, a 30-major program where every student gains a minor in innovation. The program, which was designed to give students a research-focused approach to business development, technology, and ethics, is particularly valuable to students considering an entrepreneurial path. Other colleges of note include the Schools of Agricultural and Life Sciences; Design, Construction and Planning; and Veterinary Medicine.

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2 University of South Florida-Sarasota-Manatee 80.56 40% Sarasota, FL

With a small campus of just 2,000 students, USFSM's main focus is providing an individualized educational experience; the school boasts a student-to-faculty ratio of 13:1 and a 92% student satisfaction rate. The university currently has a catalog of 18 undergraduate majors, with over 25 minor options to choose from. Some of the school's standout programs include communication sciences and disorders, criminology, hospitality management, and interdisciplinary social sciences. Aside from more than 100 different internship opportunities available, undergraduates enrolled in the biology program get the rare opportunity to use the off-site labs at Mote Marine Laboratory, learn from leading scientists in their field, and develop practical experience through hands-on learning. Students on campus can also take advantage of the Florida Center for Partnerships for Arts-Integrated Teaching (PAInT), the Culinary Innovation Lab, service learning experiences, and study abroad opportunities.

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3 University of Central Florida 79.58 65% Orlando, FL

As one of the largest universities in our nation and the largest of all colleges in Florida, UCF in Orlando offers its 65,000 students 210 degree programs provided at the main campus, online, and through its 12 other regional locations. Representing students from every corner of America and 148 countries, the campus culture at UCF is diverse. The Carnegie Foundation has recognized UCF for excellence, bestowing the highest designations in both community engagement and very high research activity. Undergrads can choose from 109 different degrees, including a number offered in accelerated format for students looking to enter the job market quickly. A sampling of unique programs includes civil engineering, film, integrated business, and photonic science. To round out the student experience, UCF is currently home to more than 600 student clubs and organizations, including a meditation group, an advertising club, the Biomedical Engineering Society, and a thriving Greek life.

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4 Florida State University 78.36 75% Tallahassee, FL

Having met a rigorous number of benchmarks set forth by the Florida legislature, FSU in Tallahassee was recently designated as a preeminent research university. But that's not the only thing that makes FSU one of the best colleges in Florida. With a 93% freshman retention rate and a commitment to providing exceptional teaching opportunities -- including six Nobel Laureate faculty members -- students at FSU enjoy many features that aren't standard at most institutions. The school offers 160 undergraduate degrees through its 14 academic colleges, many of which are offered with additional specializations. For the undecided learner, advisors at FSU can help students sort through the wealth of options to find a program tailored to future goals. Aspirational students can also elect to participate in the honors program, Global FSU, or work with the Office of National Fellowships to find a scholarship to take part in exceptional programs, both domestic and abroad.

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5 The Baptist College of Florida 73.98 58% Graceville, FL

As the first private institution to appear on our list, BCF also has the distinction of being one of the handful of religious Florida colleges in this ranking. The college, which was founded during World War II, is today home to 18 undergraduate degrees divided between biblical and nonreligious topics. All degrees are taught through a Christian lens; students looking to work in the church can choose from programs such as ministry studies or missions with a concentration in aviation. Others may choose a more traditional degree like business leadership or secondary education. For those who are local to the Graceville campus, the college also has an innovative dual enrollment program for high school seniors looking to earn college credits. Outside of academics, BCF has a number of excellent services and resources available to students, including a wellness center, numerous student clubs, a career services department, and special married housing for couples attending the college together.

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6 New College of Florida 73.82 69% Sarasota, FL

New College has been building a name for itself in the 50 years since getting its start. With a current student body of 800, NCF is committed to providing a strong liberal arts education that prepares students for a range of careers. The school accomplishes this is by focusing exclusively on undergraduate education and maintaining a 10:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Designated by the Florida legislature as an "honors college for the liberal arts," NCF attracts students from far and wide. The school offers almost 40 areas of concentration (AOC), or majors, alongside an innovative program allowing aspirational learners to create their own interdisciplinary degree programs to meet unique goals. Students seeking an existing area of concentration can choose from three different divisions: humanities, social sciences, or natural sciences. Unique AOC options leading to a bachelor's degree include marine biology, medieval and renaissance studies, Russian language and literature, and more.

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7 Florida International University 72.51 49% Miami, FL

Aside from being the only public research institution in Miami, FIU has several distinctive qualities that make it one of the best colleges in Florida. Designated by the Carnegie Foundation as having the Highest Research Activity, the institution also ranks first in the nation for awarding bachelor's degrees to Hispanic students. The Fulbright program recognized FIU as a Top Producer of U.S. Scholars for the 2015-2016 academic year, while the College of Law also maintains the top spot for passage rates on the Florida Bar Exam. As of 2017, the school offers nearly 200 degree programs at every academic level, with options for both campus and online study available. Some of the innovative programs offered by the school include Asian studies, construction management, Portuguese, and real estate. Students looking for an innovative marine biology program need look no further: FIU is home to the Aquarius Reef Base, the only underwater ocean laboratory in the world.

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8 Beacon College 70.36 87% Leesburg, FL

When Beacon College was established in 1989 by a group of visionary parents, the school set out with a very unique mission: to serve baccalaureate students who learn differently. As the first accredited undergraduate college in the nation exclusively devoted to this population, BC provides specialized learning opportunities for students with learning disabilities, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and autism spectrum disorder. To fulfill that mission, every facet of campus life at this Florida college -- from application to graduation -- was developed to best serve these students' needs. The college currently consists of 285 students from 35 states and nine countries who take part in small classes. ACT/SAT scores aren't required, but students will need to have a documented learning difference. The school currently has seven different undergraduate degrees, ranging from anthrozoology to web and digital media. Several specializations and minors also available, including entrepreneurship, game design, and studio arts.

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9 University of Miami 69.64 81% Coral Gables, FL

As a research institution, students at the University of Miami can rest assured knowing they're learning from faculty members who are active in their fields while also having the opportunity to gain hands-on, practical knowledge. The university offers more than 115 undergraduate degree programs through its 11 schools and colleges; these include the School of Architecture, the College of Engineering, and the Frost School of Music. Unique degree options at UofM range from Africana studies and and neuroscience to Judaic studies and sport administration, and learners can choose to pursue dual degrees programs in biology, exercise physiology, marine geology, and more. Students also have the opportunity to enroll in one of the university's programs of distinction, including the Foot Fellows Honors Program, the da Vinci Program, or the Health Professions Mentoring Program, among others. The campus boasts 280 student organizations, 44 service groups, 26 intramural and sports clubs, a cinema, and an art museum.

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10 University of South Florida-Main Campus 69.16 57% Tampa, FL

Rounding out the top 10 best colleges in Florida is Tampa's USF, a major urban research institution with more than 60 years of history. Students with an interest in the sciences are often drawn to USF both for its record-breaking research funding and the fact that it ranks fourth in the world for American Association for the Advancement of Science fellowships. It's also a great choice for students pursuing careers in marine science, being one of only eight research centers in the world. USF currently has 226 undergraduate degree programs available through its 14 different colleges. These include the College of the Arts, the Muma College of Business, the College of Global Sustainability, and more. Students can choose to study areas such as behavioral healthcare, civil engineering, dance, global business, and Italian, among others. USF has a program to fit every student's goals, and learners can rest assured knowing qualified and respected faculty members will be there to guide them.

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11 Ave Maria University 67.16 64% Ave Maria, FL

Ave Maria University is a Catholic institution focused on providing liberal arts education at the undergraduate and graduate levels. With just over 1,100 students, AMU offers an intimate campus setting and personalized education at a reasonable price -- making it one of the best colleges in Florida for the cost-conscious learner. In fact, 99% of all students received some type of financial aid during the previous year. The university currently offers just under 30 undergraduate majors, with innovative programs in areas like American studies, early Christian literature, Greek, and managerial economics. Students at Ave Maria can take advantage of the Aquinas Center for Theological Renewal and the Stein Center for Social Research. Outside of academics, students at AMU also have the unique opportunity to participate in the Mother Teresa Project, a one-of-a-kind program that instills compassion through service projects, seminars, and retreats.

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12 The University of West Florida 66.98 45% Pensacola, FL

With numerous locations throughout the northwestern portion of the state, UWF rises above other Florida colleges by providing rigorous academics and an engaging community -- as recognized by the Carnegie Foundation. With a student body of 13,000 strong, most classes have less than 40 students and allow for an intimate learning experience. For active members of the military or veterans, UWF has been named a Gold-level Military Friendly School and applauded as one of the "Best for Vets" by Military Times. The university offers 45 undergraduate programs and 27 graduate degrees for those who may wish to continue their education. A sampling of unique degree options include athletic training, clinical laboratory sciences, global hospitality and tourism, and supply chain logistics management. Once a student reaches campus, they'll have the opportunity to be immersed in a range of campus life activities, including extracurricular clubs, intramural sports teams, student government, and Greek life.

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13 University of North Florida 66.09 48% Jacksonville, FL

As one of the best colleges in Florida for students in the upper portion of the state, UNF is consistently recognized by the U.S. Department of Education's College Scoreboard. In the most recent report, the agency gave UNF above average marks in annual cost, graduation rate, and average salary upon graduation. With five different colleges providing more than 100 different degree programs, UNF enjoys a diverse student body of future astrophysicists, professional harpists, historians, and civil engineers. The school also focuses on constantly enriching every student's experience and was recently applauded by the Carnegie Foundation for excellent community engagement. When they aren't in the classroom, students can take in a concert at the Lazzara Performance Hall, attend one of the 100+ student organization meetings, take advantage of the campus's 1,300 acres, or watch a baseball game at Harmon Stadium.

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14 Florida Gulf Coast University 65.71 45% Fort Myers, FL

As one of the Florida colleges taking part of in state university system, FGCU in Fort Myers has accomplished a lot in its 20-year history. With a student enrollment of nearly 15,000, the school continues to raise the bar of academic accomplishment with every entering class. The school offers 55 undergraduate degrees; some of the standout degrees include an accelerated biology program for motivated students, community health, music therapy, and PGA golf management. In order to help incoming freshmen find their footing, the school operates an extensive first year advising program as well as the opportunity for students to partake in peer mentoring. For students who enjoy extracurricular activities, the university is home to 15 Division I athletic teams, 20 fraternities and sororities, and nearly 200 student organizations.

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15 Flagler College-St Augustine 64.18 65% Saint Augustine, FL

Located in the nation's oldest city, St. Augustine-based Flagler College is a small private institution deeply rooted in history. Sitting on a scenic campus decorated with Spanish architecture, the school currently offers 31 undergraduate degrees through its 11 departments in areas ranging from strategic communication and elementary education to hospitality/tourism management and theatre arts. Notably, the college recently welcomed its first class of coastal environmental science majors. The school's First Year Experience is a well respected program that all incoming students participate in, while Enactus is an award-winning student club focused on teaching skills in entrepreneurship, business management, and leadership. Students can also take part in the passport co-curricular program, the honors program, study abroad opportunities, and undergraduate research. The school has a student body of 2,500 and a student-to-faculty ratio of 16:1, making it one of the best colleges in Florida for those seeking a more personalized learning experience.

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16 Warner University 62.62 40% Lake Wales, FL

Providing a Christian perspective, Warner University in Lake Wales is committed to honoring its Church of God foundations while preparing servant leaders to meet today's needs. The school is home to 1,000 undergraduate and graduate students, although the majority are pursuing baccalaureate degrees. The university currently offers 30 different programs, with both liberal arts and professional focuses. Programs of interest include agricultural studies, interdisciplinary ministry, exercise and sports, and an innovative self-directed program allowing students to create their own degree with the help of an academic advisor. For students concerned about financing a degree, 99% of all incoming undergraduates received grants during the 2015-2016 academic year. Adult students looking to begin or complete their undergraduate degree after years outside of academics can take advantage of the adult learning division for individualized assistance.

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17 Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Daytona Beach 62.56 58% Daytona Beach, FL

Unlike other Florida colleges in this ranking, Embry-Riddle is the only one to focus solely on aviation and aerospace training. Operating from Daytona Beach, the campus provides exceptional education experiences for students looking to work in the aeronautical industry. With 27 undergraduate degree programs available, students can choose from programs like aerospace engineering, air traffic management, aviation business administration, human factors psychology, or unmanned aircraft systems science. For those interested in a career in space exploration, ERAU's campus is just 90 miles from NASA's Kennedy Space Center and students may have the opportunity to complete an internship at the agency during their degree. Because students from throughout the world are drawn to ERAU for its innovative programs, the university has a thriving international population as well as a language institute to help them build fluency in English. Students looking for a bit more of a challenging experience on top of regular coursework can apply to the honors program.

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18 Rollins College 62.47 72% Winter Park, FL

In 1885, a group of New England Congregationalists set out to bring their style of liberal arts education to the Florida frontier. Rollins College became the first recognized college in the state and remains one of the most well-respected colleges in Florida and one of the top-ranked liberal arts colleges in the nation. The four-year, coeducational institutional educates students for global citizenship and responsible leadership, empowering graduates to pursue meaningful lives and productive careers. Thanks to an average class size of 17 and a 10-1 student-faculty ratio, students enjoy personalized attention from dedicated faculty. Incoming freshman and transfer students can choose from more than 34 different majors and even more minors as well as accelerated and dual degrees and pre-professional programs in law, medicine, and more. When they aren’t studying, students take advantage of more than 100 student organizations and a beautiful 80-acre lakeside campus located just outside Orlando.

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19 Hobe Sound Bible College 62.44 44% Hobe Sound, FL

As the name suggests, HSBC is one of the numerous Florida colleges in this ranking that prioritizes educating students through a Christian worldview. This institution sees its mission as preparing students to share the Good News, and the small roster of undergraduate degree programs reflects that approach. Students can select from programs in counseling, ministerial studies, missionary flight training, music/teacher education, or an innovative TESOL program for individuals looking to teach English abroad. The college also provides an intercultural studies program for those planning to serve as missionaries outside the United States. After arriving at the Hobe Sound campus, students can elect to take part in a ministry team such as Around the Sound, a traveling choir group. As part of its goal to make education widely accessible, the school places an emphasis on affordability. Financial aid is available in the form of scholarships, grants, loans, and on- and off-campus work.

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20 Southeastern University 62.36 40% Lakeland, FL

Originally founded as the Alabama Shield of Faith Institute in 1935, Southeastern University in Lakeland has undergone numerous name and location changes throughout its history but has never ignored its promise to provide quality Christian education. That dedication has paid off in recent years, with The Chronicle of Higher Education naming SU as one of the fastest growing liberal arts institutions in America, and the fastest among Florida colleges. With nearly 50 undergraduate programs offered, students pursue studies in one of the school's six academic colleges. These include the colleges of Arts & Media, Behavioral and Social Sciences, Christian Ministries & Religion, Education, Natural & Health Sciences, and Business & Entrepreneurial Leadership. Course options range from media ministry and organizational leadership to kinesiology and actuarial science. Class sizes are capped at 20 students, giving SU learners the opportunity to interact with professors and peers in a meaningful way to truly absorb course content. As an added bonus, the school puts great importance on maintaining affordability: during the previous academic year, the average financial aid award was $18,000.

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21 Johnson University Florida 62.16 42% Kissimmee, FL

The mission of Johnson University is to provide education in Christian ministries and other vocations covered by the Great Commission. The private university provides a range of degree options, including 18 undergraduate programs in topics closely related to Christian living. Some of the more innovative offerings include a children's ministry bachelor's program with an emphasis in preschool/daycare directorship, non-profit administration, strategic ministry, and preaching/church leadership. As one of the best colleges in Florida, Johnson University helps maintain that reputation by also offering tuition rates that are half the national average for private institutions. As a small institution, JU currently has 186 undergraduate learners and maintains a student-to-faculty ratio of 13:1. Students looking to involve themselves in athletics can take part in basketball, cross country, soccer, or volleyball. Internship opportunities are also available to students in church settings, mission agencies, nonprofit organizations, and more.

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22 Keiser University-Ft Lauderdale 61.96 60% Fort Lauderdale, FL

Among the best Florida colleges is Keiser University, with 18 campuses peppered throughout the state and nearly 100,000 alumni. The school currently offers 43 bachelor's programs that include traditional studies in areas of business, nursing, or education, while also offering innovative degrees in financial crime investigation, automotive marketing and management, imaging sciences, and fitness technology. As an added bonus, students enrolled at the Fort Lauderdale campus enjoy the benefits of a quality education while also being minutes away from pristine beaches. Keiser offers financial aid in the form of grants, loans, and scholarships. Notably, the university along with the Keiser Mills Foundation have provided around $44 million in scholarship funds to US and international students.

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23 Palm Beach Atlantic University 61.42 51% West Palm Beach, FL

When PBAU initially opened its doors in 1968, the first classes were held in an old First Baptist Church. Today the university's premier campus, just steps away from West Palm Beach, offers around 60 undergraduate degree programs from its nine different schools, including a number of dual majors and accelerated options. Inventive degree offerings include forensic science, mathematics and computer science, medicinal and biological chemistry, and organizational management. Bachelor's students can also take part in the Frederick M. Supper Honors Program, which combines books, speeches, music, architecture, and films to foster "Great Conversation". While enrolled at PBAU, students benefit from being instructed by qualified professors, 82% of whom have the highest degree in their field. Students seeking a degree in business, ministry, organizational management, or psychology have the option to complete their studies via a specialized evening program to help them balance outside obligations.

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24 Stetson University 60.36 64% DeLand, FL

As one of the pioneering institutions of higher education in Central Florida, Stetson University in DeLand was formed in 1883 as a school dedicated to instilling both character and knowledge in its graduates. That mission continues today, alongside the added goal of preparing students to excel in the modern form of any industry they enter. Incoming undergraduates can choose from 54 majors, alongside other topics offered as minors. Whether a student's interests bend toward Africana studies or aquatic biology, family enterprise or public health, the programs at Stetson were designed -- and are continually evaluated -- on the notion that each should significantly help students launch their professional careers or graduate education. Students who live within driving distance of the university may be interested in attending one of the monthly admissions open house events held on campus, but virtual tours and webinars can also be made available to prospective students who are further afield.

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25 Florida Atlantic University 59.84 41% Boca Raton, FL

Hosting more than 30,000 students, FAU rounds out the top 25 best colleges in Florida. With more than 50 undergraduate degree programs, prospective students have the opportunity to pursue several degrees unique to the university, including exceptional student education, geomatics engineering, linguistics, and ocean engineering. Additionally, the school has a large number of combined degrees for students seeking both dual undergraduate degrees or the opportunity to complete a bachelor's and a master's degree in a shorter period of time. An example of one such offering is the B.S./M.S. accelerated program in biological sciences and environmental science. Students looking to supplement their degree can pursue one of several undergraduate certificates on offer, covering areas of study such as aging, geographic information studies, and women, gender, & sexuality studies. With more than 40 research centers on campus, students at FAU also have the rare opportunity to put their classroom learning to use in hands-on, real-world scenarios.

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Two-year college programs are a great way to save money on your education. They provide a sample of college life without taking the full plunge. Community colleges often have transfer agreements with four-year schools. This allows students to work on core and required courses for much cheaper tuition.

For career-conscious students, community colleges also provide options for job training. This may include a two-year degree program or it can be a short certificate course. Some schools even offer on-the-job apprenticeship programs allowing students to start working right away.

Florida’s College System includes 28 colleges, 69 campuses and 178 sites across the state. Over 800,000 students attend a variety of courses. These include job training and professional certificates for those in need of a career. Others work on courses they need for a four-year degree. Some professionals find a continuing education course useful or even required.

Florida features some of the top-scoring community colleges in the country, including Miami Dade College, Valencia College, and Broward College. You can find our detailed review of the top two-year programs in the state below.

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Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1 Withlacoochee Technical Institute 85.90 101% Inverness, FL

Located in the city of Iverness, Withlacoochee Tech stands out as one of the best community colleges in Florida, offering innovative workplace-based career training programs for students as young as sixteen years old. Most programs take one school year to complete and students are graded on performance; students progress through the program as they demonstrate improvement in both skills and knowledge. Programs can be found in trade-oriented careers like air-conditioning/heating and welding technologies. Students looking to earn a bachelor's or master's can enroll in programs like nursing and network systems administration which they can transfer to four-year and graduate institutions in the state. WTI offers flexible programs where students can earn industry certification or state licensure. Learners at WTI can join one of its student organizations, like National Technical Honors Society or SkillUSA, providing the opportunity to network in their fields and gain access to funding and career opportunities. Depending on the program, high school students can earn up to 15 academic credits at universities and two year colleges in Florida while attending WTI.

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2 Marchman Technical Education Center 84.48 92% New Port Richey, FL

Marchman Tech, located in New Port Richey, stands out among Florida community colleges for its dedication to workforce training and adult education. The school offers 12 career programs in addition to coursework for General Education Development, non-native English speakers, and Adults with Disabilities. Technical training includes programs in marine service technology, digital cinema production, and electrical maintenance. MTC is one of the two year colleges in Florida to offer cosmetology and automotive service/collision courses at night, allowing students to pursue the degree while maintaining a full-time job or other obligations. Marchman is one of the best community colleges in Florida for current high school students because it offers options to pursue dual-enrollment and technical training while completing a secondary degree. Learners may opt for the Transition Education Program, which helps high school students get work experience and gain life skills, ensuring a successful move into working adult life. Tuition is based on residency status.

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3 Immokalee Technical Center 84.29 64% Immokalee, FL

As one of the leading Florida community colleges, Immokalee Technical College offers a wide range of post-secondary career programs, including training in accounting, early childhood education, and heavy equipment mechanics. Located on a state-of-the-art campus in the city of Immokalee, iTech provides real world education for both traditional and distance learners towards gainful employment and career advancement. Immokalee gives students interested the option to pursue General Education Development (GED) coursework as well as classes for those who speak English as a second language. The school stands out among the best community colleges in Florida for its dedication to the service of seasonal and migrant farmworkers through its Farm Worker Career Development Program (FCDP). Lasting a few weeks to two years, the FCDP assists students with social development, skills training, and job searching. Free to those who qualify, graduates from the program largely move on to full-time gainful employment.

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4 Fred D. Learey Technical Center 82.67 92% Tampa, FL

Established in 1993 and located in Tampa, Fred D. Learey Tech is one of the Florida community colleges offering both degree as well as career development courses. Its course catalog contains technical training programs in automotive service technology, emergency medical technologies, and early childhood education. LTC is one of the few two year colleges in Florida to offer a degree program for prospective firefighters with level I and II comprehensive training. The degree is designed to meet the Florida Bureau of Fire Standards requirements and prepares graduates to train and test for State Certification. Tuition ranges widely by program and course, but the net price averages $2,054 per year. All applicants must take the Test of Adult Basic education (TABE) to show that the have the prerequisite academic skills. As one of the best community colleges in Florida for military, veterans and their spouses are welcomed to apply for Veterans Administration educational benefits, which include additional funding and tuition remission.

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5 George Stone Technical Center 80.10 68% Pensacola, FL

George Stone Tech, named after the former Florida legislature whose bill helped build vocational schools throughout the state, is located in Pensacola. George Stone offers a large catalog of career and technical training programs, including degrees in aviation maintenance, home health aide, and commercial foods & culinary arts, all of which prepare students for certification in their respective fields. The school has General Education Development courses, but the center stands out for its co-enrollment options for nontraditional high school-aged students who wish to graduate with their cohort group. GSTC is one of the best community colleges in Florida for studying criminal justice. The degree prepares students for careers in law enforcement and correctional systems. There are no "crossover" options; a current police officer cannot easily transition into correctional work and vice-versa. All applicants to GSTC must pass an entrance exam. Prospective, current, and former students are all qualified to receive personal counseling.

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6 Emerald Coast Technical College 78.00 61% DeFuniak Springs, FL

Emerald Coast Tech, located in DeFuniak Springs, is one of the Florida community colleges dedicated to providing affordable education to all students. The school provides career training, postsecondary accreditation, and adult enrichment. Emerald Coast offers degree programs in the in the fields of information technology, automotive service, construction, cosmetology, and nursing and health science. Short term classes are available and designed as a service to local businesses and other members of the community, making ECTC one of the best community colleges in Florida for customized skills training. Most programs have four points of entry during the year, allowing students to enroll when it suits them. Tuition rate is based on residency status, and though ECTC is not currently participating in federal loans or federal work-study programs, other forms of private, local, and state financial aid is available. Applicants must pass entry exams (the TABE or the TEAS for nursing programs).

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7 Manatee Technical Institute 76.38 89% Bradenton, FL

Established in 1962 to provide dedicated vocational training to Brandenton and surrounding areas, Manatee Technical College carries on that mission as one of the premiere Florida community colleges. The school services over 5,000 students annually. Manatee's academic catalog consists of courses focused on career preparation, continuing education, and general education development. MTC stands out among other technical or two year colleges in Florida by the number of career prep programs it offers, including 3-D animation, plumbing, and welding. Many MTC students experience fast entry-level career advancement, since most of their degree programs take less than one year to complete. The school participates in the Farmworkers Career Development Program. This program helps seasonal/migrant workers find full-time positions in nonagricultural fields, and specialized healthcare skill development through the MTC Community Center, a designated institution of the American Heart Association. Manatee provides enrichment classes in golf, Spanish, and household repairs (Handyman).

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8 SABER College 74.38 106% Miami, FL

Located in Miami, Spanish American Basic Education and Rehabilitation (SABER) College was established in 1972 to provide vocational education and career opportunities to all students. SABER offers a number of non-degree and associate's degree programs. What sets this school apart from other Florida community colleges is its specialization in health-related careers, including nursing, physical therapy, and healthcare billing and administration. SABER's two nursing pathways allow students new to the field and licensed practicing nurses to get their Associates of Science in Nursing. The nursing program consists of 79 credit hours, including general education and preliminary courses, while the LPN to nursing track is only 60 hours, taking into account prior and continuing work experience. Graduates are prepared to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses, making SABER one of the best community colleges in Florida for career training in nursing.

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9 Technical Education Center-Osceola 73.24 70% Kissimmee, FL

The Technical Education Center, known for their "career in a year" job training programs, has its main campus in the city of Kissimee. As one of the Florida community colleges with vocational training programs, TECO offers courses in digital design, medical administration, pharmacy technology, and culinary arts. Though the school does not offer associate's degrees, many of TECO's job training programs allow students to gain credits towards their work at two year colleges in Florida, in particular, at Valencia College in Orlando. TECO boasts a criminal justice program that rivals the best community colleges in Florida. The program teaches new and seasoned students new skills that lead towards career advancement.Tuition is based on program, but financial aid is available to everyone, including federal grants and state-specific awards like the Florida Bright Futures Scholarships. TECO students get access to student services, including career counseling, academic tutoring, and the ability to join the National Technical Honors Society for networking and other opportunities.

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10 Flagler Technical Institute 73.14 69% Palm Coast, FL

Located in Palm Coast, Flagler Technical Institute provides students in the workforce career advancement opportunities through the learning of specific, marketable skills. Fields of learning include commercial vehicle driving, early childhood education, health science, and other programs. Each of these technical training programs can be personalized to fit the current experience and career objectives of individual students. Those interested in a career in agriculture can pursue a program in landscape and nursery management or water treatment technologies in order to build skills towards an immediate job, satisfy a training requirement of a current position, or as preparation towards a degree in one of the universities or two year colleges in Florida. Tuition is priced at $2.72 per instructional hour for state residents and $11.71 for non-residents, making FTI one of the best community colleges in Florida in terms of cost. FTI participates in the Step Up program, which helps adults with disabilities gain life skills and find employment.

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11 Lorenzo Walker Institute of Technology 72.86 63% Naples, FL

Lorenzo Walker Technical College is located in the city of Naples and is one of the best community colleges in Florida, offering job training and accreditation in a variety of fields. Among LWTC's catalog are certification programs in medical assisting, welding technology, phlebotomy, account operations, and many others. The school stands out as one of a few community and two year colleges in Florida to offer training in aircraft airframe and powerplant mechanics. Students learn key skills in working with commercial aviation maintenance and repair, and graduate ready to sit for the Federal Aviation Administration exams. Most programs are offered in the daytime and at night, and a selection of courses are offered online through the ed2go portal, enabling students to pursue their career goals while juggling busy personal and professional obligations. Lorenzo Walker is among the most affordable of Florida community colleges.

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12 Suwannee-Hamilton Technical Center 72.76 75% Live Oak, FL

The mission of Riveroak Technical College, located in Live Oak, is to provide students of all ages and backgrounds with opportunities to enter or advance in the career of their choosing, while imbuing them with life skills that lead to self-confidence and sufficiency. RTC offers a variety of career programs, training students to be pharmacy technicians, cosmetologists, welding technicians, and auto-collision specialists, among other specialized jobs. Riveroak is one of the few Florida community colleges to offer courses in brick and block masonry, from planning and creation to installation and maintenance. Accredited by the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER), students leave the program ready for industry certification. RTC offers community and adult education courses that help students get their high school diploma, gain academic and life skills, or prepare students for job training programs at Riveroak and other institutions.

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13 Marion County Community Technical and Adult Education Center 71.33 63% Ocala, FL

Marion Tech, located in downtown Ocala, serves over 3,000 students annually and is committed to lifelong learning and practical, career-based education. MTC offers career training programs and continuing education for professionals that rivals the best community colleges in Florida. The catalog includes programs in radiologic technology, applied cybersecurity, massage therapy, and phlebotomy, among many others. MTC is one of a few Florida community colleges to offer a combined firefighting and emergency medical technician program. The program is designed for students with no prior work experience in these fields to gain the knowledge and skills needed to enter either career tracks. Current professionals can find courses that teach advanced skills necessary for career advancement. Welders, for example, may take expert level courses in their field and thereby gain new skills or earn industry certification. Tuition is affordable and financial aid, including Veterans Educational Assistance, is available.

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14 North Florida Community College 70.38 59% Madison, FL

North Florida, located in Madison, is dedicated to individualized and accessible education. The school boasts one of the most affordable tuitions among Florida community colleges--a rate they have not increased in the past three years. NFCC offers many associate's degrees, certificates, and nondegree programs. Students can earn their Associate in Science or Associate in Arts at NFCC, with several majors and areas of emphasis within each degree, including Emergency Medical Services and STEM. In addition, the A.A. degree allows students to enter an articulation agreement with schools in the Florida College System. This "2+2" program means that students complete their first two years of a bachelor's at NFCC, and are then guaranteed admission to a Florida university to complete the remaining two. All of these opportunities make NFCC one of the best community colleges in Florida, whether students are seeking immediate job placement after graduation or continued education.

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15 Florida Panhandle Technical College 69.81 66% Chipley, FL

Florida Panhandle Tech's mission is firmly rooted in competent technical education for employment and advancement in vocational careers. Located in the city of Chipley, FPTC offers a large number of certificate degrees, including programs in law/corrections, applied information technology, pharmacy technology, and high school and general education development. FPTC is one of the few vocational or two year colleges in Florida to offer career training in woodworking, specifically cabinetmaking and carpentry. These programs teach fundamental skills for the woodworking profession and enable graduates to sit for the National Center for Construction Education Research professional exam. Students with the carpentry certificate may apply their coursework towards the completion of their associate's degree in building construction technology at other Florida community colleges and universities. FPTC is one of the best community colleges in Florida in terms of cost and quality of education.

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16 Charlotte Technical College 66.67 76% Port Charlotte, FL

Charlotte Technical College has a history dating back to 1978. The school's philosophy is concurrent with some of the best community colleges in Florida: the education of nontraditional learners in trade career and other vocational fields. CTC offers many nationally and regionally accredited career training programs, including courses in the fields of health science, information technology, architecture and construction, and hospitality and tourism. A variety of programs are offered at night to accommodate busy work schedules. Professionals have the option to pursue continued education courses, in IV therapy and construction maintenance techniques, towards the advancement of their careers. CTC stands out among Florida colleges for its dual education option for high school students, wherein they can get a head-start in their career by taking courses at the college while still being able to graduate from their high school. State residents pay a much lower tuition price, but the cost is affordable for out-of-state students.

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17 Robert Morgan Educational Center 65.90 70% Miami, FL

Robert Morgan, located in Miami, was established in 1979 to provide vocational training to postsecondary students. As part of the network of Florida community colleges, Robert Morgan offers more than 30 accredited certificate programs in areas such as business, health science, and industrial education. The school stands out among other technical and two year colleges in Florida for its specific programs in automotive technology, including service maintenance and collision repair. Students can pursue a two-year Honda PACT program, which consists of academic study and real-world work experience at local dealerships and repair centers, leading to professional accreditation and an Associate of Science in Automotive Service Technology. Ninety-five percent of graduates go on to full-time careers in their field, making Robert Morgan one of the best community colleges in Florida. Robert Morgan participates in the Skills for Academic, Vocational and English Studies program, which helps adult refugees, asylees, and entrants get the necessary language, life, and career skills necessary to be successful in the United States.

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18 Brewster Technical Center 65.33 73% Tampa, FL

Brewster Tech, backed by the Council on Occupational Education, offers several career training programs in accordance with its mission of providing quality technical education for Florida residents. Students can learn professional certificates in industry machinery maintenance, distribution and logistics management, and early childhood education, among other fields. The programs at Brewster promote hands-on learning. For example, early childhood education students work closely with centers serving children ages three to five. Graduates leave the program with the the necessary skills and several industry qualifications, including the Child Development Associated Equivalency. They can then move on to gainful employment or pursue additional education at other universities and two year colleges in Florida. BTC is one of the best community colleges in Florida in terms of job placement; through its Career Development Center, students get access to counselors who assist with job planning, search, and application. Applicants must pass the Test of Adult Basic Education in order to enroll and the tuition is priced by program.

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19 Tallahassee Community College 65.14 56% Tallahassee, FL

Established in 1966, TCC prepares student for careers in the global economy through a combination of educational preparation, work opportunities, and community service experiences. TCC offers a number of certificate and associate's degree programs in health information technology, paralegal studies, sports fitness, and recreation management. Students may choose to pursue an Associate of Arts, which provides a guaranteed pathway into Florida's four year public universities. What places TCC apart from other technical and two-year colleges in Florida is its Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. Designed for licensed registered nurses with completed associate's degrees, this track provides them with the training and experience to access more lucrative positions. Professionals in other fields may enroll in workforce and skill development classes towards their own career advancement. These opportunities, combined with TCC's low tuition rate, make it one of the best community colleges in Florida.

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20 Wyotech-Daytona 64.76 76% Ormond Beach, FL

The primary goal of WyoTech is to provide technology-based education designed with careful regards to industry standards. Wyotech offers career training programs in the automotive, diesel, collision repair, motorcycle, and marine technology fields. These programs are intensive, but flexible, allowing students to choose areas of specialization. For example, those in the Automotive Technology Program get trained in fundamental elements of diagnosis and repair, like basic engine management and driveability. They also choose from specialities that align with their interests and career goals, like "Light-duty Diesel" and "Applied Service Management". WyoTech offers career counseling and job placement services. WyoTech has longstanding professional relationships with local and national business, like Mazda, Bridgestone, and Pep Boys, making it more likely for their graduates to obtain employment. Jessi Combs, former host of Spike TV's Xtreme 4x4, received the skills training needed to advance her career at Wyotech.

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21 D G Erwin Technical Center 63.24 62% Tampa, FL

Erwin Tech, part of the Hillsborough County Public Schools system, is a Florida community college in the city of Tampa offering full-time career training programs. ETC's catalog consists of programs in the fields of business, design, industrial services, and medical technology. Both day-time and evening classes are provided, allowing students to pursue career development at their own pace and based on their work schedules or other obligations. ETC stands out among other technical schools and two year colleges in Florida for its barbering program. Offered at the standard and expert levels, students master necessary skills, get assistance with job placement, and graduate the program ready to take the Florida State Board of Barbers Examination. ETC also offers part-time classes for specific skill development in areas like payroll accounting, electrical wiring, and woodworking, which enables working professionals to hone their skills toward better-paying positions. The low price of ETC's programs makes it among the best community colleges in Florida, and financial aid is available to full-time students.

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22 Taylor Technical Institute 62.57 34% Perry, FL

Taylor Technical, located in the city of Perry, is accredited by the Council on Occupational Education and is dedicated to providing flexible and affordable workforce education. TTI offers full-time career and technical programs in the fields of office administration, patient care, electrical technologies, among other programs. The school stands out among other Florida community colleges for its millwright programs, teaching students the skills necessary to maintain and repair industrial machinery. The institute's millwright program has a high success rate as graduates usually move directly into careers as plant/factory mechanics and installers, making it one of the best community colleges in Florida for this type of work. TTI also offers a number of continuing and general education development courses. Tuition is paid per hour and based on the student's residency status. TTI offers veteran assistance, by offering tuition reduction or remission, and accepting program credits for previous military training.

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23 Hillsborough Community College 59.14 38% Tampa, FL

Hillsborough CC, located in Tampa, is one of the best community colleges in Florida, delivering education that empowers students and helps them meet their academic and career goals. With over 160 programs in its catalog, HCC offers full-time job training and academic transfer programs, including short-term skill-training classes that allow students to learn more skills in their trade or simply pursue personal interests. Programs in medical billing/coding or automotive repair enable students to get lucrative jobs in the field upon graduation, while programs like the Associate of Arts in Anthropology prepares them for further education at another university. HCC has an established distance learning program and students can earn an associate's degree in business administration or a certificate for database administration completely online. HCC offers athletics programs and an Honors Institute, which enables students to pursue extracurricular activities while networking and learning important leadership skills.

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24 D A Dorsey Educational Center 59.05 36% Miami, FL

D.A. Dorsey Tech, named after the influential Miami businessman and African American community leader, is dedicated to providing the education needed to succeed in a competitive workforce. As part of the network of Florida community colleges, DTC offers several career training programs in areas like patient care assistance, information technology, and automotive service technology, among others. Programs, usually completed in less than one year, prepare students for immediate employment upon graduation, equipping them with all the tools of the trade and preparing them for state certification in their field. While DTC has continuing education programs similar to other two year colleges in Florida, it also offers a unique adult high school completion program called "Edgenuity". This 24-credit program allows student to earn a high school diploma through replicating a similar curriculum in a much shorter amount of time. DTC is also among the best community colleges in Florida in terms of funding, offering a wide range of financial aid from federal loans to private and institutional scholarships.

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25 Fort Myers Institute of Technology 57.62 57% Fort Myers, FL

Fort Myers Tech offers several career-training programs that help students prepare for industry certification/licensure and obtain lucrative positions upon graduation. FMTC's catalog includes education in architecture and construction, hospitality, and manufacturing, including other programs. Like some of the best community colleges in Florida, FMTC offers completely online programs in medical coding and cybersecurity, including short-term skill development classes that helps working professional gain an edge in their field. FMTC is dedicated to helping adult learners and offers remediation courses through their Learning Center to help students prepare for their full-time programs. Students usually finish in less than two years and tuition is based on state residency status. FMTC has a dedicated scholarship initiative and provides many internal and external opportunities. It's largely funded by the school's network of dedicated supporters and alumni, making it a stand-out among other two year colleges in Florida.

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If you’re thinking about applying to one of the best colleges in Florida, continuing reading to learn more about living in the Sunshine State.

Florida is famous for blue skies, surf and sun. The state covers 5,860 square miles (1,198 miles of coastline) and packs almost 20 million people into that small space. In fact, it’s the fourth most-populated state in the country.

Geographers divide Florida into four regions. These include the Gulf Coast and coastal plains (those beaches you’ve heard so much about). In the northern part of the state lie the hilly upland areas. Alligators and wildlife abound in the famously swampy Everglades. Finally, explore an island paradise in the Jimmy Buffet-approved Florida Keys.

Regional Spotlight

Gulf Coast and Coastal Plains
Florida Keys


Florida’s stellar universities offer real opportunities for students. But the college and university system have stringent requirements for students that want resident status. It’s best for students to plan as soon as possible, even if they don’t intend to go to college for a while.

For Minors:

For minors, the first big determination is whether they are an independent or dependent student. The university makes its decision based on the student and parents’ tax returns. Other documentation may be needed, as no one piece is necessarily conclusive.

Students and their parents have to prove that they live in Florida for reasons beyond just attending school. To do that, the school may want proof they’ve made a life in the state. This includes documents like driver’s license and voter registration cards. It can also include proof of home ownership and proof of full-time employment.

The school bases its decision on the student and their parent or legal guardian living in the state for a year before seeking resident status.

For Adults:

Adults must live in Florida for reasons beyond just attending school. Proving this can involve documentation of a life outside education. The university may want home ownership papers. Government documents like a driver’s license or voter’s registration may also serve to prove residency. The school may also want to see proof of full-time employment. No single document is conclusive and the school is the final arbiter of its decision.

Rankings Archive

Best Colleges in Florida of 2016
Rank School Location
1 University of Florida Gainesville, FL
2 New College of Florida Sarasota, FL
3 University of Miami Coral Cables, FL
4 University of South Florida Tampa, FL
5 Florida State University Tallahassee, FL
6 University of Central Florida Orlando, FL
7 University of North Florida FL
8 Rollins College Winter Park, FL
9 Stretson University DeLand, FL
10 Beacon College Leesburg, FL
11 Flagler College - St Augustine Saint Augustine, FL
12 Florida Atlantic University Boca Raton, FL
13 Florida International University Miami, FL
14 Florida Southern College Lakeland, FL
15 Florida Gulf Coast University Fort Myers, FL
16 University of West Florida Pensacola, FL
17 Palm Beach Atlantic University West Palm Beach, FL
18 Jacksonville University Jacksonville, FL
19 Eckerd College Saint Petersburg, FL
20 University of Tampa Tampa, FL
21 Everglades University FL
22 Southeastern University Lakeland, FL
23 Nova Southeastern University Fort Lauderdale, FL
24 Florida College Temple Terrace, FL
25 University of South Florida - St Petersburg St. Petersburg, FL
Best Community Colleges
Rank School Location
1 Indian River State College Fort Pierce, FL
2 North Florida Community College Madison, FL
3 Eastern Florida State College Cocoa, FL
4 Palm Beach State College Lake Worth, FL
5 Valencia College Orlando, FL
6 Chipola College Marianna, FL
7 Pasco-Hernando Community College New Port Richey, FL
8 Northwest Florida State College Niceville, FL
9 Florida Gateway College Lake City, FL
10 College of Central Florida Ocala, FL
11 Florida State College at Jacksonville Jacksonville, FL
12 Academy for Nursing and Health Occupations West Palm Beach, FL
13 Daytona State College Daytona Beach, FL
14 Keiser University - Ft Lauderdale Fort Lauderdale, FL
15 Seminole State College of Florida Stanford, FL
16 South Florida State College Avon Park, FL
17 Santa Fe College Gainesville, FL
18 SABER College Miami, FL
19 Florida College Temple Terrace, FL
20 Pensacola State College Pensacola, fL
21 Tallahassee Community College Tallahassee, FL
22 Lake-Sumter State College Leesburg, FL
23 Gulf Coast State College Panama City, FL
24 Saint Johns River State College Palatka, FL
25 City College - Altamonte Springs Altamonte Springs, FL