Showing posts with label graduation rate. Show all posts
Showing posts with label graduation rate. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

FAMU's grad rate improvement efforts will benefit from Pell Grant increase

The $1.3 trillion federal budget signed into law on March 23, 2018 includes a boost in the maximum Pell Grant amount.

According to the United Negro College Fund, “the maximum Pell Grant award was increased by $175 to $6,095. This program invests in the students most in need, coming from lower-income backgrounds, and affords them an opportunity at an education.”

Back in 2017, the Omnibus Appropriations Bill restored year-round Pell Grants, which hadn’t been available since 2011. Over the previous six year time period, students had only been able to receive Pell Grants for two semesters per academic year, which led to a decline in Pell-eligible students taking summer courses. But now, more students will be able to take classes for three semesters each year and graduate more quickly. The year-round Pell Grants are being continued in the new appropriations law.

A total of 65.4 percent of FAMU undergraduate students (5,008) received a Pell Grant in Fall 2015, which was the highest of all the schools in the State University System of Florida (SUS).

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Toldson: AJC published b.s. ("bad stats") article on HBCU graduation rates

Ivory A. Toldson, former director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities and a member of the Howard University faculty, recently took an Atlanta Journal-Constitution article to task for its use of b.s. (“bad stats”) to describe HBCU graduation rates.

From the essay “Low Graduation Rates Aren’t an HBCU Thing” published by The Root:

A black woman with a teenage son told me that several people had sent her the recent Atlanta Journal-Constitution article about black colleges “struggling” with low graduation rates to warn her against sending her son to an HBCU. The article’s headline stated that the six-year graduation rates at “many” HBCUs are lower than 20 percent.

With no mention of the total number of HBCUs anywhere in the article, the reader must infer what “many” means. In total, 101 HBCUs currently qualify for federal support; therefore, the AJC’s definition of “many” is just shy of 20 percent. In addition, according to the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, 602 non-HBCU institutions of higher education, including predominantly white institutions, have graduation rates of 20 percent or less. This represents just shy of 20 percent of all institutions of higher education with data available for analysis. So if 20 percent means “many” to the AJC, the article should have been titled, “6-Year Graduation Rates at Many Colleges and Universities Lower Than 20 Percent,” and “HBCU” removed from the center of the story.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

FAMU seeking more support to boost STEM education, graduation rate

As students head back to campus for the fall semester, Florida A&M University (FAMU) officials and stakeholders are working to ensure they have the resources needed for a successful college experience.

This summer, FAMU’s Board of Trustees (BOT) approved the University’s 2018-2019 Legislative Budget Requests (LBRs), which will be submitted to the Florida Board of Governors and the Florida Legislature in the coming months. The total amount requested is $24.1 million and includes $15.3 million to support the University’s efforts to help students excel in their studies, graduate on time and secure employment in their fields of study.

“This year’s Legislative Budget Requests (LBRs) were developed after careful consideration of the additional resources needed to implement our strategic plan, in particular investments needed to raise the University’s performance on key student success metrics,” said Interim President Larry Robinson. “We look forward to engaging all of our stakeholders in a concerted effort over the next several months and thank them for their continued support of FAMU.”

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

FAMU’s graduation rates, enrollment stand to benefit from Pell Grant, SAG boosts

Current and future Rattler students stand to reap big benefits from the recent boost to the federal Pell Grant program and proposed bump in Florida Student Assistance Grants (SAG). The increased need-based aid is likely to help raise Florida A&M University’s enrollment and four-year/six-year graduation rates.

The FY’17 Omnibus Appropriations Bill restored year-round Pell Grants, which haven’t been available since 2011. Over the past six years, students have only been able to receive Pell Grants for two semesters per academic year, which led to a decline in Pell-eligible students taking summer courses. But now, more students will be able to take classes for three semesters each year and graduate more quickly.

A total of 64.7 percent of FAMU undergraduate students received a Pell Grant in Fall 2014, which was the highest of all the public universities in Florida.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

SB 2 could help FAMU’s access rate funding, but make grad rate funding more difficult

Florida Senate President Joe Negron at FAMU in April, 2016
Senate Bill (SB) 2 could make it more difficult for Florida A&M University to get performance funds based on its graduation rate. But FAMU would likely qualify for more performance funds based on its access rate, which could be invested into helping students finish college quicker.

SB 2 would change the preferred performance funding measure for State University System of Florida (SUS) graduation rates from six years to four years. That would hurt FAMU, which had the lowest four year graduation rate in the SUS in 2015 at 13.4 percent. The University of West Florida was at 19.4 percent and Florida Gulf Coast University was at 19.9 percent.

But SB 2 could help FAMU gain a larger share of the performance funding dollars in the access rate category. The Florida Board of Governors (BOG), which distributes performance funds, defines the access rate as “the number of undergraduates, enrolled during the fall term, who received a Pellgrant during the fall term.”

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Alexander says changes to grad rate measure in performance funding are unfair to FAMU

Yesterday, State Rep. Ramon Alexander, D-Tallahassee, cast a “no” vote against a bill that would change the preferred performance funding measure for public university graduation rates from six years to four years.

According to the News Service of Florida, “The Senate wants to measure university undergraduate programs on a four-year graduation basis. The House also would use a four-year measure, but would add a six-year measure with weighting for four-year graduations.”

Alexander opposed the bill (HB 3), which passed with an 11-3 vote during a meeting of the House Post-Secondary Education Subcommittee. He said: “this proposal in many respects will have a negative impact on Florida A&M University.”

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Performance-based funding a problem, but it isn’t “killing” FAMU

Rattler Nation has written for years about why funding in the State University System of Florida (SUS) shouldn’t be tied to six-year graduation rates. FAMU has had a course load cliff for years. Most FAMU students have to take smaller course loads whenever the cost of college increases. Smaller course loads hurt the FAMU six-year graduation rate.

Six-year graduation rates are currently one part of the performance funding metrics of the Florida Board of Governors (BOG). That’s a problem. But it isn’t “killing” FAMU.

SUS schools that don’t meet the minimum performance standards can lose a capped amount of “institutional investment” money that comes out of their annual appropriation from the legislature. FAMU hasn’t lost any money due to that because it has met the minimum standards each year.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

2007: Maxwell fails to fact check Castell's inaccurate information about student scholars

The inaccurate information that former FAMU Interim President Castell Bryant spread about a cohort of National Achievement Scholars and Semifinalists that came to the university in 1997 just won’t go away. It’s now become a topic of discussion in the unofficial “FAMU Alumni” page on Facebook.

“I think Dr. [Frederick S. Humphries] is probably one of the most effective recruiters I have ever known. And the fact that he was able to recruit all those black national merit scholars to FAMU is actually phenomenal,” Castell said in a 2007 interview with the St. Petersburg Times columnist Bill Maxwell. “During some semesters, he recruited more black merit scholars than Harvard. The sad part is that most of the students did not graduate from FAMU. In fact, at one point, only 12 out of a cohort of 84 National Merit Scholars graduated.”

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Tripp’s record at FAU disqualifies him from criticizing FAMU’s graduation rate

Norman Tripp was a member of the Florida Atlantic University (FAU) Board of Trustees for more than six years and served as its chairman between 2007 and 2008. The six-year graduation rate never rose above 39.8 percent during any of those years. But he now seems to think that his record at FAU somehow qualifies him to be a leading critic of the current 39.03 percent six-year graduation rate at FAMU.

Back in 2001, Gov. Jeb Bush chose Tripp to be a member of the first-ever Board of Trustees at FAU. The six-year graduation rate at the university was 39.8 percent that year. That was the highest it would ever be during Tripp’s years on the BOT. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

FAMU invests $7.2M in performance funding to help graduation and retention rates

FAMU has invested $7.2M in new performance funds from the Florida Legislature into a number of initiatives to boost the university’s graduation and retention rates.

One is an overhaul of the university’s office of student retention, renamed the Office of Undergraduate Student Success, which includes a reinvigorated focus on promoting academic excellence and advising transfer students. Using a new software program to identify struggling students, two new directors and a coordinator of financial advisement are charged with proactively reaching out to those students to offer targeted services.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Brogan's FAU record disqualifies him from criticizing FAMU's grad rate

Frank Brogan led Florida Atlantic University (FAU) for six years and never pulled the six year graduation rate above 39.4 percent. He now seems to think that his record at FAU somehow qualifies him to be a leading critic of FAMU's current 39.3 percent six-year graduation rate.

Brogan, who is now the chancellor of the State University System of Florida (SUS), was back at it in yesterday's Orlando Sentinel. The newspaper ran a story entitled: "Brogan to FAMU: Cut number of low-performing students."

Denise-Marie Ordway, the article's author, declined to tell her readers about Brogan's graduation rate record at FAU.

Ordway also failed to mention that FAU and Florida International University (FIU) barely graduate more students than FAMU in six years despite the fact that they only admit a very small number of students who don't meet the SUS's standard admissions requirements. FAU and FIU's six-year graduation rates were both 41 percent in 2010-2011.

That information is in the SUS records, but Orlando Sentinel reporters like Ordway still refuse to acknowledge it. They would rather ignore those facts in order to print more slanted articles against FAMU. Highlighting comparative information about Brogan's FAU record and FAMU's ability to keep pace with FAU and FIU's graduation rates would undercut the biased news coverage.

Monday, July 23, 2012

FAMU's grad rate neck-and-neck with FAU and FIU's despite its profile admit rate

The Orlando Sentinel, following the lead of the Florida Board of Governors, is dedicating lots of attention to FAMU's six-year graduation rate, which was 39 percent in 2010-2011. Its attempts to link this to so-called "unprepared" students doesn't add up when the six-year graduation rate at FAMU is compared to that of Florida Atlantic University (FAU) and Florida International University (FIU).

FAU and FIU's six-year graduation rates were both 41 percent in 2010-2011. Those two universities barely graduate more students than FAMU in six years despite the fact that they only admit a very small number of students who don't meet the State University System of Florida's (SUS) standard admissions requirements.

"FAMU's four-year graduation rate is a dismal 12 percent; its six-year rate is 39 percent — the state's lowest," the Orlando Sentinel editorial board wrote. "That owes, in part, to [former President James H.] Ammons' insistence on admitting applicants who are unprepared for college rigor. Students who flunk out or graduate with the state's highest debt loads."

An article by Sentinel reporter Denise-Marie Balona suggested that FAMU’s decision to admit a large number of students through the profile assessment process is a major reason that its six-year graduation rate isn’t higher.

"In recent years, FAMU has opened its doors to a skyrocketing number of students who did not meet the most basic admissions criteria," Balona wrote. "Over the past several years, FAMU has hiked up its percentage of so-called "profile admits," students whose grades or SAT scores fell short, who did not take enough math in high school or who failed to meet other requirements."

Friday, July 06, 2012

HBCU Digest rips Orlando Sentinel's coverage of FAMU's graduation rate

Editorial board members and reporters at the Orlando Sentinel have bombarded their newspaper’s pages in recent months with slanted headlines about FAMU. The sensationalized “news” coverage has many historically black college and university (HBCU) supporters across the nation fuming.

From the HBCU Digest:

The Orlando Sentinel this week continued its media framing assault on Florida A&M University, recently publishing a piece on FAMU’s graduation rates. Hovering around 12-percent four-year undergraduate completion rate for incoming freshmen, and a 39-percent tick for those completing in six years, the article wastes no time in giving the reader the usual higher ed porn found in HBCU stories – students leave saddled with debt and no degree to show for it.

Here’s the truth about historically black colleges and universities’ graduation rates, a truth that anyone with cultural and racial sensibility can appreciate. HBCUs admit and graduate the students that most four-year institutions won’t consider for enrollment. There are casualties. Many of them. But giving low-income, high academic-risk students a chance to go to college is the most socially responsible thing to make those students the primary advocate for change in their lives, and the lives of their families.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Graduation rate for Class of 2014 will be big test for Ammons

FAMU's six-year graduation rate has attracted lots of news coverage, lately. FAMU President James H. Ammons' administration has taken a number of steps to help students earn their baccalaureate degrees more quickly. But there won’t be enough data to fully evaluate the success of this work until two years from now.

Ammons' first day as president was July 2, 2007. He recruited the freshman class that enrolled in Fall 2008. Their six-year graduation rate success won’t be known until the Spring of 2014.

The six classes that have reached the six-year point since Ammons took the top job were recruited by previous presidents.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Studies: Students who want bachelor’s degrees do best when they start at four-year colleges

On June 20, 2012, Board of Governors (BOG) member Norman Tripp asked FAMU President James Ammons why he doesn't send more of the university's applicants to two-year colleges rather than admitting them as through the "profile assessment" process.

The guidelines for the profile assessment process are outlined in BOG Regulation 6.002, which states: "Applicants who are not eligible for standard admissions may be considered for alternative admission. In addition to reviewing a student’s GPA and test scores, a university may consider other factors in the review of the student’s application for admission."

FAMU currently has the highest number of "profile admits" in the State University System of Florida.

"Why aren’t you directing [profile admits] to what was a community college or state college to get prepared to come to FAMU?" Tripp asked Ammons. "It’s cheaper. The purpose of the 2 + 2 system was to take those students who are obviously not prepared to do your work and to get them prepared."

Ammons answered by emphasizing that the "four-year college experience" FAMU offers is important to the success of the students the university serves as part of its historical mission. A 2007 study published in the Teachers College Record of Columbia University backs up Ammons' position.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

FAMU should be able to expand doctoral programs despite graduation rate, just like FAU

Yesterday, a number of members of the Florida Board of Governors (BOG) attacked FAMU’s doctoral program ambitions with a lame argument that didn’t stop Florida Atlantic University’s (FAU) doctoral expansion efforts.

According to the Orlando Sentinel: “Some members of the Board of Governors suggested to FAMU President James Ammons that he focus on helping undergraduate students get through school before he continues expanding FAMU's graduate and doctoral programs.”

FAMU currently has a 39.3 percent six-year graduation rate.

Frank Brogan, the current chancellor of the State University System of Florida (SUS), served as the president of FAU from 2003 until 2009. The university’s six-year graduation remained below 40 percent during his entire presidency. But that didn’t stop him from aggressively expanding FAU’s research programs and building the foundation for the university’s current medical school.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Financial aid, advising, and housing key to FAMU's graduation rate strategy

For the past three years, FAMU's lower division students (those with fewer than 60 credit hours) have taken higher course loads than their peers at the University of Florida. This has set FAMU on the right path for a higher six-year graduation rate.

This important step forward did not happen by accident. It is the result of a carefully crafted strategy for making college more affordable for FAMU's students. FAMU's Divisions of University Relations, Student Affairs, Administrative and Financial Services, and Academic Affairs have all played very important roles in this process.

Fee breaks and more generous financial aid to encourage higher course loads

President James H. Ammons' administration has beefed up scholarships and rolled out bigger fee breaks to help students obtain more money for classes.

A big part of the increase in scholarship money has come from the Division of University Relations' ongoing efforts to rebuild the Industry Cluster, a major source of private giving. Alumni donations to the university foundation have also sharply risen since Ammons was appointed president.

The Division of Administrative and Financial Services also recommended new out-of-state fee breaks to the Board of Trustees (BOT). These fee breaks, which the BOT approved, are part of the university's efforts to help these students boost their course loads. FAMU awarded $2.7M in out-state-breaks in 2009-2010. That climbed to $3.8M in 2010-2011.

In 2009-2010, Chief Financial Officer Teresa Hardee and then-Student Body President Gallop Franklin, II successfully persuaded the BOT to waive the seven percent differential tuition increase for students who qualify for the need-based Florida Public Student Assistance Grant (FPSAG). That meant that FPSAG recipients only faced the mandatory six percent tuition hike required by the legislature, instead the total 15 percent increase placed on the majority of FAMU students.

These fee breaks and scholarships were complemented by U.S. President Barack Obama's leadership in increasing Pell Grant awards. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 boosted the maximum Pell Grant award by $500 to $5,350 for 2009-2010. The maximum award went up to $5,550 in 2010-2011 as a result of additional funds from the College Cost Reduction and Access Act.

Stronger advising and the expansion of on-campus housing

FAMU is working to maintain its success in boosting student course loads with additional initiatives that will save students money.

The Division of Academic Affairs led by Provost Cynthia Hughes-Harris has made more academic advisors available on campus and stepped up its requirement for students to meet with them on a regular basis. This helps prevent students from taking unnecessary courses that cost them lots of cash and slow down their path to graduation.

For example, FAMU is beginning to require most freshmen admitted through the profile assessment process to enroll in summer classes immediately after high school graduation. These students are being giving specialized advising during the summer months.

The Divisions of Student Affairs and Administrative and Financial Services are also working hard to expand on-campus housing. The university recently reopened Sampson & Young Halls, which added 208 beds and brought to total number up to 2,692. FAMU’s next priority is to complete its brand new Polkinghorne Village by 2013. That will add 800 more beds to campus and bring the total up to 3,492.

Former Vice-President of Student Affairs Roland H. Gaines and current Vice-President for Student Affairs William E. Hudson, Jr. have both stated that the expansion of on-campus housing will help improve FAMU’s six-year graduation rate. Campus housing rental rates are usually much cheaper than private-owned apartments. Students also save money by using campus meal plans and walking to class instead of driving. That leaves them with more dollars to spend on courses.

Monday, October 24, 2011

FAMU’s freshmen, sophomores taking higher course loads than UF’s

Ammons has pulled FAMU back from the course load cliff

President James H. Ammons’ administration has reversed FAMU’s ten-year slump in lower division course load averages. Not only are course loads up, but FAMU’s lower division students (those with fewer than 60 credit hours) are now taking higher course loads than their peers at the University of Florida.

The increase in freshman and sophomore course loads at FAMU is important because it illustrates that the university is successfully addressing a key problem that prevents many of its students from graduating in a timely manner. FAMU’s housing shortage makes college very expensive for the student body. Most students come from families that make $30,000 or less per year. Students typically reduce their course loads as the cost of college goes up. That hurts the university's retention and graduation rates.

The average family income of UF freshmen is $105,000. It’s easy for most UF students to call their parents and get extra money for rent, car gas, and food when prices go up. The majority of FAMU students can’t do that. But under Ammons, FAMU has taken a number of important steps to reduce the cost of college for its students (which Rattler Nation will detail in tomorrow's lead story).

FAMU requires a minimum of 120 credit hours for a baccalaureate degree. Students need to take an average of 15 credit hours each fall and spring in order to meet that benchmark in four years.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Ammons: FAMU priced out-of-state students out of an education

At the June 1 Board of Trustees meeting, President James Ammons admitted that FAMU took a giant step backwards years ago when it decided to raise its out-of-state tuition rate well above what most non-Florida students can afford.

“We have priced our out-of-state students out of an education,” Ammons told the trustees. “There was a time when our out-of-state tuition was lower than in-state tuition in many states.”

Ammons further explained that many out-of-state students have a hard time paying for school because they come from low-income backgrounds.

“Many come here for one year and then have to leave,” Ammons said.

Most FAMU students come from households that make $30,000 or less per year.

FAMU gives freshmen first priority in campus housing. However, the university only has enough beds for about 21 percent of its student body. After their first year, most out-of-state students struggle to pay for the high cost of off-campus in addition to the rising price of tuition. That forces many of them to either reduce their course loads or drop-out of college.

As part of an effort to increase FAMU’s graduation and retention rates, Ammons recently announced that he plans to grant $3.8M in tuition waivers to out-of-state students next year. He hopes the waivers will give returning out-of-state students more money to buy larger numbers of credit hours and complete their degrees more quickly.

However, tuition will increase by eight percent for new out-of-state students.

Besides hurting the graduation rate, out-of-state tuition increases have also placed a strain on the university’s athletic recruitment budget. The more that out-of-state tuition rises, the more it costs for FAMU to provide scholarships for out-of-state student-athletes.

FAMU’s out-of-state student numbers continue to get smaller as the tuition price gets bigger.

Back in Fall 2000, when the average price for out-of-state full time enrollment was $8,542, FAMU had 3,065 out-of-state students (25.20 percent of the student body). In Fall 2009, when the average price for out-of-state full time enrollment was $14,030, FAMU only brought in 1,793 out-of-state students (14.6 percent of the student body).

Monday, June 14, 2010

Most SUS institutions have 6-year grad rates below 50%

FAMU aims for 49.7 percent six- year graduation rate by 2020.

In 2008, seven of the 11 State University System of Florida institutions graduated fewer than half of their students in six years. The average six-year graduation rate for the entire system was 53.1 percent.

The University of Florida led overall with 82 percent. FAMU had 41 percent. FAU came in last with 39 percent.

Considering the scarcity of on-campus housing in the SUS it’s no surprise that UF, which has a wealthy student body, is on top of the graduation rate list. The average family income for UF students is about $105,000 and only 21 percent of its full-time, first-time students receive Pell Grants. Most FAMU students come from families that make $30,000 or less. FAMU is also the only SUS member at which most of the full-time, first-time students receive Pell Grants, with a total of 52 percent.

It’s easy for most UF students to call their parents and get extra money for rent, car gas, and food when prices go up. The majority of FAMU students can’t do that. That's why most FAMU students have to take smaller course loads whenever the cost of college increases. Smaller courses loads hurt the university's six-year graduation rate. If FAMU had more campus housing, the cost of education would be lower and students could take bigger course loads.

FAMU’s new Strategic Plan calls for the university to achieve a 49.7 percent six-year graduation rate by 2020. That year, the university aims to have a total of 15,000 students, with about 2,500 enrolled in graduate programs.

FAMU's ongoing efforts to expand its on-campus housing capacity are a big part of its strategy for improving the six-year graduation rate. FAMU currently has 2,484 beds on campus. The renovation of Sampson and Young Halls (242 beds) by Fall 2011 and opening of the new Polkinghorne Village (800 beds) in Fall 2012 will take the total number of beds up to 3,526.