For two consecutive years, Florida A&M has had an enrollment decline. What is really going on? This has not only happened to FAMU. It has happened to other historically black colleges and universities as well.
Some reasons for the enrollment decline at FAMU are the new standards regarding the admission.
Frederick Humphries, a former FAMU president who served from 1985-2001, said enrollment is declining because the university was admitting a lot of partial qualifiers, meaning many of the incoming freshmen did not qualify for admissions. The board of trustees asked the university to be more thorough in the enrollment process.
If FAMU makes an effort to reduce the number of admits who do not meet the academic standards, the school could benefit.
However, more strictly enforced academic requirements may result in fewer students applying to FAMU if they know they will not meet the standards. Humphries mentioned that when FAMU admitted students who were not meeting the academic standards, they, in turn, did not do well in college courses.
By FAMU admitting students who meet the academic standards, the students are more likely to keep their grades up in order to receive Pell Grants.
The Tallahassee Democrat mentioned that the U.S. Department of Education and the federal government are making certain changes affecting the students who attend HBCUs.
The Department of Education changed the federal student loan program this past year, obligating recipients to have good credit rates.
Early this month in the Tallahassee Democrat, FAMU Interim President Larry Robinson said many African-Americans are financially unstable, causing them to have credit issues. This is said to be one of the reasons why many HBCUs are having a decline in enrollment.
However, African-Americans are still choosing to attend college but are not making FAMU their choice. They are choosing more expensive institutions.
The federal government has precise rules regarding eligibility for Pell Grants. Students must maintain satisfactory academic progress to be considered for the need-based financial aid.
Students at FAMU and other HBCUs should be able to control whether they are eligible to receive certain grants. I say this because, as students, it is our job to keep our grades up in order to receive extra funding for the future years. We earn what we work for.
Another possible reason for the decline in enrollment is because of the controversy with the Marching “100.” This caused students to not apply for admissions. I personally believe everything is all about the money and the absence of the band equaled less financial support.
When enrollment rates were declining, many figured the numbers would rise again after the band was no longer suspended. Well, the band has been reinstated, but there is still work that must be done to bring the enrollment rates up.
Many students who pay tuition at FAMU are helping the institution by paying for necessities in the university’s intercollegiate sports programs. Yet FAMU has been losing $1 million a year. Because we have been losing money and having a decline in student enrollment, the athletic programs are having a decrease in funds.
Not only does our tuition support the athletic department, it supports other student needs. For example, lack of money last year forced the Hansel E. Tookes Sr. Student Recreation Center to cut back hours of operation. Also, if we do not receive enough funds, Coleman Library may not be able to stay open 24 hours Monday through Thursday.
The enrollment decline has a serious impact on FAMU because we are at the risk of losing more money. As students who are currently enrolled at FAMU, we must represent ourselves in the best manner to make other students want to become a part of the Rattler nation.