Wednesday, August 24, 2016

FAMU BOT didn’t approve $19.5M in tuition and fee losses as an enrollment strategy

Yesterday, FAMU President Elmira Mangum defended her administration’s recruitment and enrollment management practices in a guest column for HBCU Digest. She claimed that the continuing enrollment decline is a “byproduct of success.”

“Unlike other universities with declining enrollment, FAMU does not have a problem with student recruitment,” Mangum wrote. “Instead, our decline is the byproduct of success in graduating students and in the University’s policy change to recruit more college-ready students.”

An increase in the number of students who are graduating doesn't mean that an enrollment decline has to happen. A university can recruit more students to replace the ones who are graduating. An effort to recruit a bigger number of college-ready students doesn't mean that enrollment has to decline, either. A university can recruit college-ready students and grow its enrollment at the same time.
Mangum went on to say that changes to the federal financial aid program that went into place in 2012 and tighter admissions standards by the Florida Board of Governors and FAMU Board of Trustees are also reasons for the enrollment drop.

“In 2012, the FAMU Board of Trustees changed the University’s policy to limit Access and Opportunity Students (profile admits) in an effort to ensure the University admitted more college-ready students,” Mangum wrote.

The reduction in profile admits, students accepted through the “profile assessment” process, actually began at FAMU back in 2010. FAMU’s profile admit numbers for freshmen went from 78 percent in Fall 2009 to 67 percent in Fall 2010. But overall enrollment still increased from 12,261 in Fall 2009 to 13,277 in Fall 2010. Overall enrollment went down slightly in Fall 2011 but started nosediving in Fall 2012 after a federal financial aid program overhaul went into place. 

FAMU is now on track to reach $19.5M in total tuition and fee losses since Mangum’s first full year in office.

The university’s enrollment in Fall 2015 dropped to 9,920 (down from 10,233 in Fall 2014) under Mangum. That decline cost FAMU $9M+ from tuition and fee losses. FAMU expects to lose about another $10.5M due to its projected loss of 920 students in 2016-2017.

The BOT hasn’t ever approved a $19.5M decline in enrollment as a strategy to reduce profile admits. So despite what Mangum says, FAMU does have a recruitment problem because if it were recruiting enough high-achieving students to grow enrollment then those multi-million dollar losses wouldn’t be happening.

“While we have made strides, increasing enrollment will challenge FAMU to successfully recruit and enroll more students that meet the admissions criteria, and to raise the financial support necessary to ensure that these students can maintain their enrollment,” Mangum wrote.

Mangum’s suggestion that she needs more time to get enrollment up isn’t likely to get her anywhere with the BOT.

Mangum’s undergraduate alma mater, North Carolina Central University (NCCU) had two straight years of falling enrollment caused by the federal financial aid program overhaul in 2011. Enrollment went from 8,604 in Fall 2012 to 8,093 in Fall 2013. It then went down again in Fall 2014 to 7,687.

But NCCU Chancellor Debra Saunders-White, who started on June 1, 2013, has reversed the enrollment drop and brought in a strong class of freshman students. The NCCU freshmen in Fall 2015 had an average GPA of 3.21 and overall enrollment went up to 8,011.

The freshman class at FAMU had a slightly higher average GPA at 3.40 in Fall 2015. That’s a difference of 0.19 with NCCU.

It only took Saunders-White two years to reverse the NCCU enrollment decline with a class of freshman that had a 3.0+ average GPA. Mangum is now in her third year at FAMU with no end in sight for the university’s student losses.

The time for excuses from Mangum is over.

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