No tuition break for FAMU’s out-of-state students, even if all classes are online

The quad, a normal hangout spot for students. Photo by Oshia Myers

Florida A&M University’s Board of Trustees earlier this month approved a proposal regarding reopening plans for the fall semester while facing the COVID-19 pandemic.

One of the many concerns about the upcoming semester regarded the tuition costs for out-of-state students. Florida A&M decided that out-of-state students will not have lowered tuition for the 2020-2021 school year.

Provost Maurice Edington addressed the decision during a June 10 virtual town hall, where President Larry Robinson and members of the senior leadership team answered questions about the university’s future operations.

“We got a lot of questions around tuition rates for out of state students. Those rates will not change, which means that students who are out of state and who take courses online will still pay the current rates,” Eddington said.

According to Florida A&M’s Office of Financial Aid, the standard rate for out-of-state tuition and fees is $8, 795 for both the fall and spring terms. Additional costs like room, board, supplies and transportation bring the total to an estimated $13, 880 for each semester. A complete academic school year is an estimated $27, 760 for out-of-state students.

Edington said out-of-state tuition must remain at its current rate during the town hall meeting. “The in-state tuition is subsidized by the state of Florida to acknowledge that state residents contribute to the state’s tax space,” he said.

Philadelphia nativesophomore Shardeia Maddox, who pays an estimated $35,000 of tuition, doesn’t see the correlation between paying full tuition and not being able to experience a full college experience this fall. “I was honestly shocked and felt left out. It’s unreasonable to have students pay that much tuition including insane fees just to sit at home and not get the experience and learning we paid for,” she said.

Maddox wishes the university was a bit more considerate regarding students and their families who are potentially facing financial challenges in the middle of a global pandemic. “It just feels like the school isn’t thinking about out-of-state students’ problems being that we pay three times more than in-state students,” she said.

FAMU’s Student Service Center. Photo by Oshia Myers

Georgia native and rising sophomore Kenya Byrd thinks FAMU is prioritizing other things besides the extra strides she goes through to have a successful school year, which averages around $30,000 for her. “Most of the time it’s the out-of-state students that are working extra hard because their parents are paying a lot of money for their school so they’re expecting A’s and B’s and nothing less, so for them to not be lenient on tuition is kind of tricky. It makes it seem like they just want the money,” she said.

Maddox and Byrd have both been left with a dilemma that many out-of-state students are facing: Should they return to Florida A&M’s campus this fall, opt to take a semester off, or transfer to another university.

Byrd is keen on returning in the fall but isn’t too happy about paying her normal tuition rate just to have a limited semester. “Knowing that I’m going to be charged all these fees out of the blue and with everything on campus being shut down, it’s kind of discouraging,” she said.

Maddox doesn’t believe Florida A&M’s efforts to normalize this upcoming semester as much as possible are worth shelling out her normal tuition costs. “I have spoken with friends who are also out-of-state students and have reconsidered attending the 2020-2021 school year because of no reduction for the tuition,” she said. “I am not getting the learning and experience I need; therefore, it will be implausible to pay that much money.”