HBCUs and financial aid

Photo courtesy: Tallahassee Democrat

HBCUs are known for their culture, festivities such as homecoming and school spirit. On the downside, HBCUs are also notoriously known for their inconsistent financial aid.

Every semester, students fill out their Federal Student Aid (FASFA) to receive financial aid assistance such as grants or loan disbursements from their school. Students receive their money at various times; however, it is typical to receive disbursements up to 30 days before school starts.

Many students and alumni have expressed their concerns over the years that HBCUs’ financial aid services have delayed their disbarments and become normalized.

Jamar Brown, a fourth-year senior computer engineering scholar at Florida A&M University, says this is his first year receiving his refund on time.

“I was more surprised than anything. I feel HBCUs financial aid have normalized inefficiency instead of trying to fight the stereotypes and think of permanent solutions,” Brown said. “There is no reason why the students across the tracks can get there same of school starting.”

Brown recalls when, in spring 2022, he did not receive his Pell Grant, two loans, and scholarship until mid-late February.

“They kept sending it to be dispersed by student accounts, but then pulled it and put a financial hold back on my account three times,” Brown said. “It was not dispersed until I made numerous visits, which involved me yelling and pleading my case.”

Brown also mentions that the financial services said they kept having to recalculate the accurate amount he could receive from his scholarship.

Latanya Herbert, a fourth-year general health science scholar, says FAMU is working on their inefficiency, but improvement is still needed.

“They need to start answering their phones, “Herbert said. “Many students call because we are unable to come on campus. They never answer the phone, which is inconvenient for us students.

Although Herbet believes financial aid for HBCUs can improve, FAMU’s service has become more innovative with disbursing in alphabetical order and early financial aid registration.