School no longer allows award recipients to live off-campus

In early August, Florida A&M University Office of Student Affairs announced that it would request all scholarship recipients to live on campus beginning in the 2006-2007 school year.

Prior to the new housing policy, student scholars were able to decide to either live on or off campus, but now students of the Distinguished, Life Gets Better and Adopted High School Scholarships will have to choose to live on campus or provide personal funds for off-campus housing.

Prior to the university’s immediate decision to enforce its scholarship policy, student recipients received letters from university administrators acknowledging the delay of the decision.

Since then, the university has offered to continue housing funding for students who live off campus through the 2006 fall semester only if leasing contracts were signed prior to the date of Aug. 8, 2006, according to a letter from the office of student affairs.

The university has also said beginning in the spring 2007 semester, scholarship recipients must apply for on-campus housing by Nov. 1, or they will not have room or board monies for the spring 2007 semester.

“Students who receive the scholarship know the stipulation. They have to seek on-campus housing first. If on-campus housing is not available to them at that point, the scholarship office will cover the cost to live off campus,” said James McMillan, special assistant to the president.

But for Simone Facey, a Distinguished Scholar recipient, her dilemma with the new policy concerns her living arrangements for next year.

Facey said she feels short-changed by the university because the university has not agreed to pay for her housing in the spring semester.

“I feel cheated by the university because I signed my contract in April, and now this is causing me to suffer,” Facey said. “This is wrong, and now I will recommend students not to come here for scholarships because FAMU is unorganized and financial aid is never guaranteed.”

Although the university has agreed to pay for contract leases for the fall semester, students like Facey are upset and angered with university administrators for not speaking about paying for students who have housing agreements in the spring.

Student Government Association Vice President, Monique Gillium said the late change in scholarships bring more problems to students who depend on the scholarships for assistance. 

Since the new policy change, Gillium said she has heard from many angered students.

“I am a very strong advocate for (the university) to pay for the entire year simply because I do feel it was short notice, and people don’t go into six-month contracts or four-month contracts or leases – but go into a one-year contract,” said Gillium, 20, a third-year political science student from Gainesville.

Gillium also said the problem does not allow students enough time to make other arrangements.

Andrew Collins, secretary of Student Welfare and a Distinguished Scholar, said that he has tried to speak to administrators to compensate students for both semesters.

“As a scholar myself, it is still imperative that scholarship recipients receive guaranteed funding through both the fall 2006 and spring 2007 semesters. I will continue to work with the scholarship office and seek funding,” Collins said.

With many factors contributing to the university demand to bring students back to campus housing, McMillian said the policy is now being enforced by this administration.

“We realized that students were living off campus because they were given permission by previous administration, but after evaluating, we realized that there was on-campus housing available,” McMillan said.