Enrollment increase affects professors and students

Florida A&M University welcomed a total of 2,047 freshmen this semester compared to the 1,883 in 2008. University officials said they are pleased with this figure after a concerted effort to boost enrollment.

“We are thrilled at the increased number of students,” said Cynthia Hughes-Harris, university provost.
“We will make certain that they have a positive college experience both academically as well as through extra-curricular and co-curricular activities.”

This increase has also posed an issue to the university’s current limited housing. Housing has been limited since two residence halls, Sampson and Young, have not been in use.  They are both awaiting renovations.

Roland Gaines, vice president for student affairs, said the university is also looking to replace Polkinghorne Village with an 800-bed facility.

“We could have enrolled more freshmen if we had housing for them,” Gaines said. “We are encountering financing challenges … like people who are attempting to secure housing loans.”

One challenge students did not have to worry about was having enough instructors.

Hughes-Harris said the university anticipated the need for instructors and planned accordingly.

“We have enough instructors and enough classroom space to accommodate all students,” she said.

Due to the increase of students, faculty are teaching more classes than previous semesters. 

“For most full-time faculty, a full-time teaching load consists of 3 to 4 courses per semester,” Hughes-Harris said. “This load may go up or down depending on the need for courses and instructors as well as the faculty members involvement in approved research-related activities.”

Adjunct professors have been hired to fill gaps and contribute to making certain that all class needs are met.

FAMU’s financial aid office is still processing aid for the 2009-2010 academic year.

Marcia Boyd, director of financial aid, said the increase in enrollment has caused the number of financial aid applications to increase.

“Additionally, the economic downturn has impacted students and families’ ability to pay,” Boyd said. “We have a significant increase in the number of special circumstance requests, due to loss of jobs and/or salary reductions.”

Courtney Hodges, 18, a first-year political science student from Jacksonville, said she experienced a delay with her financial aid.

“I turned in some of my financial aid documents late so I kind of expected it to get processed late, and it was just processed over the weekend,” Hodges said.

 Boyd emphasized the importance of applying and turning in documents on time because of the limited amount of funds.

“As more and more students apply for financial assistance, the pool of available funding shrinks. Our job in the financial aid office is to award those funds to as many students as possible, as equitably as possible,” she said.

Students who turned in their documents late may have to wait longer before their aid becomes available.

Angelina Bartley, 18, a first-year pre-pharmacy student from Jacksonville, had a different opinion on financial aid.

“I turned in my documents on time and my financial aid is still pending,” Bartley said.

Neither Bartley nor Hodges had problems registering for classes. Bartley said she had to get a number of overrides because a lot of the classes were full.