Money from parking tickets helps fund loans

Parking ticket and tow monies collected from Florida A&M University students may be causing more than constant irritation. Funds collected from infractions on campus not only go to support operation costs, but they go toward student loans.

According to the Florida Statues 1006.66 Sec. 7,

“Moneys collected from parking assessments and infraction fines shall be deposited in appropriate funds and shall be used to defray the administrative and operating costs of the traffic and parking program at the institution, to provide for additional parking facilities on campus, or for student loan purposes.”

The use of money collected from students through parking fines to provide loans would explain the lack of adequate parking being built on campus. In the past building additional parking lots was not a top priority.

“Instead of building new parking areas we are assessing the lots and turning many employee parking lots into general lots so that students and employees can park in that area,” said Associate Parking Director John Kirby. “The Truth Hall parking lot is currently employee and commuter. Changes have been made for that lot to be students, commuter and residential.”

The newly assigned areas have been marked with new color-coded signs for students to easily see. “New parking maps to show the new parking areas will be out by the next few weeks,” said Calvin Ross, director of safety and security.

Students around campus are elated to hear parking services are fixing the persistent parking problems. “It’s about time,” said Anquan Brown, a 20-year-old pharmacy student from Miami. “For the longest, I have seen empty employee lots while I’m holding a ticket in my hand for illegal parking.”

But the question still remains what loans were provided to the students through parking services funds. “The loans we receive from the university accumulate interest, giving FAMU more money in their pockets,” said Tiffany Davis, a 20-year-old junior pharmacy student from Miami.

Carita Evans, a Department of Financial Aid representative, explained that the loans provided to students from FAFSA information had nothing to do with school funds. “The loans we provide, the Perkins and Stafford, are funds that we get from the federal government.”

The president’s office provides short-term loans to students from campus funds. However, James McMillan, special assistant to the president for student financial services, was unavailable to comment.

The Department of Public Safety and Parking Division at FAMU reported that last year, there were 5,264 students registered to park on campus and only 2,430 student parking spaces available. However, there were 1,228 faculty members registered to park on campus with 2,302 parking spaces available in which faculty could park.

The construction of multiple lots on campus, Kirby said, is also financed through the funds provided through infractions. These newly constructed lots are general lots that will allow residents, commuters and employees to park.

“But the matter is still the same. More tickets equal more money and still not enough parking. We are still forced to park alongside DRS and underneath the bridge,” said Courtney Waite, a junior pharmacy student from Miami.

Last school year more than 20,000 student infractions were issued on campus despite the shortage of parking. However, out of the possible $935,898 total fines only $96,298 was collected.