FAMU Shifts Licenses Plate Revenue

After the Florida A&M Foundation voted to change the allocation of money received from FAMU’s novelty license plates, the Board of Trustees voted to go forward with a Five Year Comprehensive Campaign that is on track months later.

“The goal currently, as we stated, is a $50 million campaign,” said Thomas Haynes, the vice president of university advancement. “Of that $50 million, we will attempt to raise $30 million in both endowed and unendowed scholarships. $10 million will go toward student and faculty research and development and another $10 million will go toward what we call our focus on excellence,” he said.

The university is working with program deans to determine areas that need funding and help them raise money in the areas where they can be industry leaders.

The main focus of the campaign is to raise money for scholarships. To do so, the FAMU Foundation voted to change the allocations of funds produced by license plate fees.

Originally, 85 percent of the fees were allocated for scholarships and 15 percent went to fundraising. Now, 75 percent of the fees go to fundraising while 25 percent goes to scholarships.

“Since a large portion of this campaign is going to be raising money for scholarships, what we did was like a trade off,” Haynes said. “We are investing a large percentage of the license tag fees now so we can raise more money for students.”

The change in allocation first left students weary about the campaign. Many didn’t understand why the amount of money generated for scholarships was decreased. Clarification on the way the money was being handled has eased the confusion.

“Being a full-ride scholarship student for FAMU, I feel bad for the people who are coming in because I feel like it is going to cut some of the scholarships they give away,” said Briana Journèe, 19, a second-year pharmacy/business student from Cleveland. “Since it is going to future scholarships, sometimes you have to sacrifice now to get a better benefit later.”

The campaign will also ease the university’s financial crunch. Haynes said money from the state is lower than the fees raised in tuition for the first time. While Haynes does not see the situation getting any better, he hopes to offset the affects with fundraising.

“What is important for us, where I sit,” said Haynes “is the need for us to continue to really go after raising significant money to support our students. We cannot afford to allow the quality of the experience provided to our students be driven by our allocations.”

Fundraising will help recruit students and prepare them for jobs in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics [STEM] fields. Haynes thinks FAMU needs to step up and deliver professionals for the country. Raising scholarship money is essential, Haynes said.

“One thing I want to make certain the students understand is that we’re really really working hard to provide them opportunities,” Haynes said. “What I like to make certain is that students know their role and responsibility when you are getting scholarship dollars. Most importantly, when you graduate, you have to give back so other students will have scholarship opportunities.”

Many students think the initiative is a needed one, but they hope the change will last long after they graduate.

“I admire their efforts and I am excited for change,” said Samantha Thompson, 22, a fourth-year pharmacy student from Chicago. “I look forward to long lasting results past my tenure here.”