Showing posts with label tuition. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tuition. Show all posts

Thursday, August 14, 2014

FAMU’s fall enrollment nosedives down to a projected 9,500

According to a projection announced by President Elmira Mangum earlier this week, FAMU has approximately 9,500 students enrolled for Fall 2014. If that turns out to be the final number, it will represent a drop of 1,234 students from one year ago. The university enrolled 10,734 students in Fall 2013.

In an address before the Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce, Mangum noted that this represents a challenge for not only FAMU, but the entire city’s economy.

“This means that 3,500 fewer students need apartments in Tallahassee, 3,500 fewer students will need to open bank accounts. They won’t buy clothes. They won’t buy groceries,” Mangum said in a quote published by the Tallahassee Democrat.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Supremes rule that legislature, not BOG, has power over tuition

Last week, on January 31st, the Florida Supreme Court ruled against a lawsuit claiming that the Florida Board of Governors (BOG) has the power to set tuition rates in the State University System of Florida (SUS). An unanimous opinion authored by Justice Barbara Pariente said that that Florida Legislature’s authority over tuition wasn’t changed by the 2002 constitutional amendment that created the BOG.

“[W]e hold that the constitutional source of the Legislature’s authority to set and appropriate for the expenditure of tuition and fees derives from its power to raise revenue and appropriate for the expenditure of state funds,” Pariente wrote. “Nothing within the language of article IX, section 7, of the Florida Constitution indicates an intent to transfer this quintessentially legislative power to the Board of Governors.”

The BOG originally signed on in support of the lawsuit in 2007. The additional plaintiffs included former U.S. Senator and Governor Bob Graham and former Florida State University President Sandy D’Alemberte.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Trustees approve $1M marketing plan despite Rufus' ranting

Yesterday, the FAMU Board of Trustees approved a $1M Marketing and Communications Plan despite a long, rambling rant from Rufus Montgomery.

Chief Communications Officer Sharon Saunders said the additional money was needed because her staff has been forced to spend most of its time responding to the large volume of public records requests that have poured in since the Nov. 19 hazing death of drum major Robert Champion.

"The demand for filling the public records requests takes all of our time" Saunders told trustees. "We don't have the time to get the positive FAMU message out."

Montgomery jumped to make contradictory criticisms against the Office of Communications. He first bashed the office for struggling to answer all the public records requests. And after that, he discouraged board members from approving more funds to help them.

"Now is not the time to pour more money into something that doesn't seem as if it is being handled properly," Rufus said.

The board voted in favor of the plan in spite of Rufus' ranting. Some trustees wanted follow-up details about specific expenditures related to plan. University officials will provide this information on July 11.

Monday, June 25, 2012

BOG a statewide laughingstock after “cattle auction” tuition-setting process

Board of Governors (BOG) Chairman Dean Colson enjoyed weeks of favorable headlines from state newspapers for shaking his finger at FAMU and lecturing Rattlers about leadership. Those press accolades officially came to an end days ago after Colson showed he was incapable of running the BOG’s tuition differential-setting process in a sensible manner.

The Florida tuition differential law permits every public university to request BOG approval to hike its tuition by an up to 15 percent "differential" that goes beyond the rates set by the legislature.  In fact, the legislature calculated the 15 percent "differential" hike into each university's budget within the annual appropriations bill.

On June 21, the BOG approved a wide range of tuition differential hikes that had little rhyme or reason.

“There really doesn’t seem to be any method to our madness,” said BOG member Ava Parker, the immediate past chairwoman of the board.

The editorial board of the Pensacola News Journal said the BOG used "a strategy that appeared to hold little more complexity than flinging darts blindfolded." Gainesville Sun editorial board members criticized the process for taking place in a "rather bizarre, random fashion."

Palm Beach Post Capital Bureau reporter John Kennedy described the BOG’s tuition differential debate as "a chaotic session" that "had little of the tweedy trappings of academia. Tuition rates were set after votes that basically amounted to offers and counter-offers. The board meeting at times sounded more like an auction house."

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Tuition unlikely to make up 50% of FAMU’s budget

Even though the Florida Legislature expects FAMU to receive most of its 2012-2013 operating funds from tuition and fees, that is unlikely to happen.

FAMU is slated to receive a total of $65.5M in general revenue for 2012-2013. The legislature projects that the university will bring in $72M in tuition and fees.

The legislature’s tuition and fee projections are unrealistic. Each year, the legislature bases its tuition and fee estimates on the bogus assumption that every university student will take a full course load.

The legislature projected that FAMU would generate $57M in tuition and fees for the fiscal year ending (FYE) 2010. FAMU actually collected $11M less than that figure for a total of $46M.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Ammons warns that hiking STEM degree tuition could hurt minorities

FAMU President James H. Ammons joined two other State University System of Florida (SUS) campus leaders in discouraging an across-the-board tuition hike for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs. He, along with the presidents of Florida Atlantic University (FAU) and Florida International University (FIU), says that such a move would make it harder for low-income minorities to obtain STEM degrees.

"I think the one way that you don't get people into areas where you need them is to charge them more," Ammons told the House Education Committee. "I think what we need to be doing, on the other hand, is to find ways to encourage and support students, especially those from under-represented groups, to go into STEM."

Fewer than 20 percent of SUS students are pursuing majors in STEM fields.

Last week, the presidents of the University of Florida and Florida State University urged lawmakers to consider charging students more for STEM degrees, which are in high demand in today’s job market. STEM programs are typically more expensive than social science or liberals programs.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

FAMU celebrates Bright Futures Scholars

FAMU held an ice cream social and press conference in the Quadrangle to celebrate its Florida Bright Futures Scholars. President James H. Ammons and Rep. Alan Williams (D-Tallahassee) were among the featured speakers.

The university recognized a number of its Bright Futures Scholarship recipients during the event, who wore Orange & Green “tie dye”-style tee shirts.

The Bright Futures Scholarship program was created in 1997 to encourage the state’s top performing high schoolers to attend college in Florida. It is funded by the Florida Lottery, which celebrated its 25th anniversary last week.

Former President Frederick S. Humphries strategically took advantage of Bright Futures to relieve strain on the FAMU recruitment budget. National Achievement Scholarship (NAS) finalists and semi-finalists from Florida automatically qualify for the Academic Scholarship, which formely paid 100 percent of tuition and fees.

When FAMU attracted those students, it didn’t have to pay a dime for their tuition and fees because the state picked up the tab. That meant that FAMU only had to cover the costs of room and board.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

FAMU still nowhere close to legislature’s inflated tuition projections

Once again, FAMU came nowhere close to the Florida Legislature’s inflated tuition and fee projections for the fiscal year ending (FYE) 2010.

The legislature projected that FAMU would generate $57,171,795 in tuition and fees for FYE 2010. FAMU actually collected $11,075,289 less than that figure for a total of $46,096,506.

Each year, the legislature bases its tuition and fee projections on the bogus assumption that every university student will take a full course load.

Even though the legislature continues to use projections that are out-of-touch with reality, FAMU has had the highest lower division course load average among the ten traditional State University System (SUS) schools for the past three years. FAMU’s freshmen and sophomores averaged 14.0 credit hours in Fall 2008, 14.0 in Fall 2009, and 13.9 in Fall 2010.

Currently, the only SUS institution that is beating FAMU’s lower division course load average is New College of Florida. It is a non-traditional liberal arts college that provides individualized written evaluations instead of letter grades. NCF also has the lowest tuition in the entire SUS.

FAMU's net increase in overall tuition and fee collections is down from the previous fiscal year. The university had a net gain of $834,344 in FYE 2010. FAMU’s net gain was $5,825,368 in FYE 2009.

Legislative tuition/fee projections:
2010: $57,171,795
2009: $52,778,244
2008: $52,367,797
2007: $56,427,269

FAMU’s tuition/fee collections:
2010: $46,096,506
2009: $45,262,162
2008: $39,436,794
2007: $39,255,167

The legislature estimates that FAMU will make $59,607,188 in tuition and fees during FYE 2011 and $64,091,635 during FYE 2012.

Source: FAMU Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) reports.

Monday, December 13, 2010

FAMU grads leave with $27,253 in debt; highest in SUS

FAMU has the worst student debt problem in the entire State University System of Florida. The members of FAMU’s Class of 2009 graduated with an average debt of $27,253.

Statewide, public and private college debt averaged $20,766. The national average was $24,000.

U.S. President Barack Obama invested billions more into federal Pell grants to help students and families weather tuition increases and a tough economy. The program’s total funds have climbed from $16.4 billion in 2008 to $25.3 billion in 2009 to $32 billion in 2010. The money still is not nearly enough, though.

“Despite the recent increases, the College Board found that the maximum Pell grant now covers just 34 percent of the average cost of attending a public four-year college, down from 45 percent twenty years ago,” said Lauren Asher, president of the Institute for College Access & Success. "The share of state grant aid that is tied to students’ financial need actually declined from 81 percent to 72 percent over the past decade. It is good news that public colleges are using more of their own aid to meet financial need, but they still haven’t crossed the halfway mark: only 42 percent of public college grants went to meet financial need in 2009-10, up from 28 percent ten years earlier.”

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. 81 percent of FAMU students take out loans to help pay for their education.

Average Student Debt for Class of 2009*

FAMU $27,253
USF $25,115
FGCU $21,247
FSU $19,364
FAU $17,338
UCF $17,044
UF $15,932
UNF $15,619
FIU $14,912
NCF $14,794

*2009 data was unavailable for UWF.

Source: Project on Student Debt.

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).

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

FAMU to grant $3.8M in out-of-state waivers

In an effort to boost FAMU’s retention and graduation rates, FAMU President James H. Ammons plans to grant $3.8M in waivers to out-of-state students in 2010-2011.

“$3.8 million sounds like a lot but it’s not going to go very far,” Ammons told the Capital Outlook. FAMU’s recent general revenue cuts have placed a strain on the financial aid budget, making it harder for the university to assist out-of-state students who are struggling to pay for their education.

In 2009-2010, an out-of-state student taking a full course load had to pay $14,030 plus $1,869 in fees. A full course load for an in-state student cost $2,658 plus $1,300 in fees.

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 increase in out-of-state waivers will give these students more money for class and help them complete their degrees more quickly.

Florida State University is another public institution that is using out-of-state waivers to provide financial relief to its students and raise revenue.

In 2008, FSU trustees approved a 50 percent reduction in fees for certain out-of-state students. That lowered the cost of annual full-time (30 credit hour) enrollment from $18,000 to $12,000 for those students.

The total fee waiver amounts to $999,661. The fee break will help FSU enroll a larger number of out-of-state students and help its current out-of-state students buy more credit hours. In the end, FSU officials expect to create 109 additional out-of-state full-time equivalents (units of 15 credit hours). That will bring in $1,999,322 in new tuition revenue.

FAMU’s in-state students, however, must prepare to pay more. The Westside Gazette recently reported that the FAMU administration plans to implement the maximum in-state tuition increase permitted by law. The legislature mandated an eight percent increase for in-state undergraduates and gave universities the option to add a “differential” that could take the amount up to 15 percent.

“We are anticipating a 15 percent increase in tuition,” Provost Cynthia Hughes-Harris said. “Eight percent will be automatic.”

Thanks to Student Body President Gallop Franklin, II, the Board of Trustees waived last year’s tuition differential for students who qualified for the need-based Florida Public Student Assistance Grant (FPSAG). Franklin also played a key role in persuading the administration to support bigger out-of-state tuition waivers.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Tuition, fee collections fall $7.5M short of legislative projections

As usual, FAMU came nowhere close to meeting the Florida Legislature’s tuition and fee projections during the fiscal year ending (FYE) in 2009.

The legislature estimated that FAMU would bring in $52.7M in tuition and fee money in FYE 2009. FAMU collected $7.5M less than that figure for a total of $45.2M.

Each year, the legislature bases its tuition and fee projections on the bogus assumption that every university student will take a full course load.

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 and reduce their course loads as the cost of college goes up.

Even though the legislature continues to use projections that are out-of-touch with reality, FAMU did actually see a big net increase in its overall tuition and fee collections. FAMU’s net gain was $5,825,368 in FYE 2009. It was only $181,627 in FYE 2008.

2009’s enrollment increase of 417 students helped bring in more tuition and fee money. FAMU President James Ammons also increased the university's institutional grant budget by $4.9M, which gave students more money to spend on classes.

Legislative tuition/fee projections:
2009: $52,778,244
2008: $52,367,797
2007: $56,427,269

FAMU’s tuition/fee collections:
2009: $45,262,162
2008: $39,436,794
2007: $39,255,167

The legislature estimates that FAMU will receive $57.1M in tuition and fees in FYE 2010.

Source: FAMU IPEDS reports.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

BOG raises white flag on tuition lawsuit

The Florida Board of Governors has officially backed out of a lawsuit that led state lawmakers to treat it like a public enemy.

Under the “leadership” of former members Carolyn Roberts and Sheila McDevitt, the BOG made the politically suicidal decision to sue the Florida Legislature for control of tuition. Legislators went from treating to BOG as if it didn’t exist to being openly hostile against its members.

In the wake of the new “differential tuition” law, the BOG no longer needs to win the lawsuit to achieve its goal of taking the SUS tuition rate sky high.

The differential law permits every public university to hike tuition by an up to 15 percent "differential" that goes beyond the rates set by the legislature in the annual appropriations bill. The differential will not be covered by Bright Futures.

FAMU’s Board of Trustees jumped to implement the differential despite ample evidence that it will probably force students to take smaller course loads.

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. But FAMU trustees simply ignore that fact and continue to approve big tuition and fee hikes that students can’t afford. That has led FAMU students to simply take smaller course loads, which hurts tuition revenue and slows students down student progress toward graduation.

The differential also threatens to put a hole in FAMU’s recruitment budget by making it much more expensive to provide full tuition scholarships for in-state National Achievement Scholars and other top-performing high school students who are being aggressively recruited by wealthier universities.

The threat of the BOG implementing big tuition increases that FAMU students can’t afford is over. That harm is being done by FAMU trustees who ignore how the tuition hikes are hurting the university’s graduation rate and budget.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

FAMU BOT lacks creative vision for revenue

Despite the ongoing budget crisis, FAMU’s Board of Trustees has failed to entertain at all the creative money-making approaches being used by other public universities. The BOT continues to discuss options such as furloughs and layoffs but has yet to consider a revenue option recently implemented by Florida State University’s board.

In 2008, FSU trustees approved a 50 percent reduction in fees for certain out-of-state students. That lowered the cost of annual full-time (30 credit hour) enrollment from $18,000 to $12,000 for those students.

The total fee waiver amounts to $999,661. The fee break will help FSU enroll a larger number of out-of-state students and help its current out-of-state students buy more credit hours. By the end of the 2009-2010 year, FSU officials expect to create 109 additional out-of-state full-time equivalents (units of 15 credit hours). That will bring in $1,999,322 in new tuition revenue (click on the picture for a larger view of the numbers).

An out-state-fee reduction could bring in new revenue at FAMU, as well. 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. But FAMU trustees simply ignore that fact and continue to approve big tuition and fee hikes that students can’t afford. That has led FAMU students to simply take smaller course loads, which hurts tuition revenue.

The most recent data from the State University System’s online fact books shows that FAMU granted the second-lowest amount of fee waivers in 2005-2006. Only New College of Florida, a school with less than 1,000 students, gave fewer fee waivers than FAMU.

The lack of a creative revenue vision on FAMU’s BOT is making the bad budget situation worse. FAMU deserves trustees who will consider every single option to create money and save university jobs.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Budget options limited by low student income

The low average family income of FAMU students presents a big challenge for the university as it struggles with painful budget cuts. The university won’t be able to rely on tuition revenue to replace the federal stimulus funds that will run out in 2011.

As Rattler Nation reported in June, FAMU officials have used about $4.7M in funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to fill in part of the gap left by legislative budget cuts. The money helped FAMU avoid cutting many faculty, staff, and administrative positions.

But after the stimulus dries up in 2011, FAMU is serious trouble. Tuition revenue won't make ends meet.

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. But the legislature and FAMU Board of Trustees simply ignore that fact and continue to approve big tuition and fee hikes that students can’t afford.

The Florida Legislature expects FAMU to raise $4.4M in new revenue from tuition and fee increases this year (for a total of $57.1M). But, President James Ammons says that number is unrealistic.

“They have projected full payment from every student,” he told the Tallahassee Democrat. “But as you know, when you do projections, sometimes they’re different from reality.”

Most of FAMU’s students take smaller course loads as college gets more expensive. That directly slices into overall tuition revenue. That means tuition is not a reliable replacement for the stimulus funds that the university will soon lose.

The situation is very different at the University of Florida, where the average family income is about $105,000. UF will be able to use tuition revenue from its wealthy student body to replace the stimulus funds that will run out in 2011.

“We chose not to rely on stimulus as bridge, unlike some other universities in Florida and elsewhere,” UF President Bernie Machen said in his 2009 State of the University Address. “As a result, we do not face the prospect of falling off a cliff in two years, as they do.”

UF is using stimulus money to make new faculty hires this year. It will then use differential tuition revenue to pay for those salary lines after the stimulus money runs out.

“We will bridge differential funding with stimulus funds to make these hires this year, maintain next year, then support with tuition differential money after that,” Machen said.

Friday, November 20, 2009

OT: UC students confront regents, riot police over fee hike

Outrage over a 32 percent fee increase is fueling tense student-led street demonstrations throughout the ten-campus University of California System. Riot police were called in on several campuses.

According to the Los Angeles Times: “The fee hike of $2,500, or 32%, will come in two steps by next fall. That would bring the basic UC education fees to about $10,300, plus about another $1,000 for campus-based charges, for a total that would be about triple the UC cost a decade ago. Room, board and books can add another $16,000.”

Last Thursday, students from across the system converged on UCLA to confront the Board of Regents, which met there to approve the fee increase. Students took over one campus building by chaining the doors shut. Some attempted to start a sit-in in front the vans that rushed the regents off campus (pictured).

At UC Berkeley, campus police brought in a SWAT team to help them control a student picket line. 50 protesters were arrested for holding a sit-in at UC Davis’s administration building. Students also took over the administrative building at UC Santa Cruz.

While the regents approved the fee hike, they also expanded the Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan, a financial aid program that covers all fees for in-state undergraduates whose families make less than $70,000 per year.

The UC system faces a $535M budget deficit. Campuses have laid off employees, frozen faculty hiring, implemented furloughs, cut library hours, and are considering freshman enrollment caps.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Franklin’s leadership alleviates differential’s strain on budget


Student Body President and University Trustee Gallop Franklin’s forward thinking has reduced the strain that FAMU’s newly-approved differential tuition will have on the university’s shrinking budget.

At Franklin’s suggestion, the FAMU Division of Administrative and Financial Affairs recommended that the Board of Trustees waive the seven percent differential tuition increase for students who qualify for the need-based Florida Public Student Assistance Grant (FPSAG). Trustees approved the suggestion at last month’s meeting.

With the waiver in place, FAMU's FPSAG students won’t have to request to extra grants or loans from the Office of Financial Aid to pay for the differential. That means FAMU can use its limited financial aid budget for other important areas of student need. FPSAG students will also be less likely to take smaller course loads as a result of the differential.

Now FPSAG recipients will only face the mandatory six percent tuition hike required by the legislature, instead the total 15 percent increase placed on the majority of FAMU students.

While the Florida legislature estimated that FAMU could raise $4.4M from tuition and fee increases, President James Ammons said that number is out-of-touch with reality.

The legislature makes tuition projections based upon the unrealistic assumption that every student will take a full course load.

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. But the legislature and BOT simply ignore that fact and continue to approve big tuition and fee hikes that students can’t afford. That forces most FAMU students to take smaller course loads, which slows down their progress toward graduation.

The differential also threatens to harm FAMU’s recruitment budget by making it much more expensive to provide full tuition scholarships for in-state National Achievement Scholars and other top-performing high school students who are being aggressively recruited by wealthier universities.

In 2006-2007, FAMU awarded $3,536,804 in FPSAG dollars to 2,313 eligible students.

For 2009-2010, the minimum FPSAG annual award amount is $200 and the maximum is $2,069.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Pa. tuition relief plan offers potential model for Sunshine State


Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell and U.S. President Barack Obama share something in common: both are taking bold steps to help more students get baccalaureate degrees.

Rendell wants to supplement Obama’s American Opportunity Tax Credit and Pell Grant increase with another proposal to help low-income families in his state: tuition relief. The governor believes this will expand college access and boost the state’s economy.

As part of his legislative agenda, Rendell unveiled a plan to make college tuition more affordable for every Pennsylvania family earning under $100,000 per year. Rendell says his proposal will help more than 170,000 students. It will also place a college degree within reach of 10,000 students who otherwise would be unable to afford tuition or might leave the state to attend college.

"Many families who saved diligently for their children's education have watched those savings quickly evaporate as a result of the national economic downturn," Rendell said. "That's why it's essential for the General Assembly to approve my plan right away so that students can receive needed relief starting this fall."

Under Rendell’s plan, all incoming students who qualify and seek to attend state-owned universities or community colleges will pay what they can afford in accordance with established financial aid practices. Every family will pay at least $1,000 a year for each child in college.

For families with income under $100,000, students could obtain as much as $7,600 in relief for tuition, fees, room and board. This relief will greatly enhance the affordability of higher education, Rendell explained.

Under the Tuition Relief Act:

-Everyone will pay something, but a student pays only what he or she can afford.

-Many families earning less than $32,000 a year will pay just $1,000 for tuition, fees, room, board and books.

-Every family that qualifies will receive thousands of dollars in tuition relief, and many will save as much as three-quarters of the total bill for tuition, fees, room, board and books.

In addition to providing immediate aid to families, Rendell said his tuition relief plan also would alleviate the crushing debt that makes it hard for many college graduates to get a strong start in their professional life.

"Three out of four students who graduate from our public universities do so with debt averaging nearly $19,000 a student," the Rendell said.

FAMU’s students graduate with an average of almost $30,000 in debt. This problem is closely linked to the low-income background of FAMU’s student body. Most students come from families that only make about $30,000 annually.

Rendell has run into a problem similar to what Florida faces: a legislature that refuses to find adequate tax revenue for public higher education.

The Pennsylvania governor calls his General Assembly: “tax averse. That's one of the biggest problems we have in the state. It's one of the biggest problems we have in the country.”

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

FAMU trustees award bonus, hike college costs


Despite abundant evidence that an increase in college costs will probably force students to take smaller course loads, FAMU’s Board of Trustees decided to hike tuition and fees anyway.

Trustees voted to implement a 7 percent differential option on top of the 8 percent tuition bump approved by the Florida Legislature.

In-state students pursuing graduate and law degrees will have to pay 15 percent more. Their out-of-state peers will face a 19 percent price jump.

While the legislature estimated that FAMU could raise $4.4 million from tuition and fee increases (for a total of $57.1M), President James Ammons said that number is not realistic.

The legislature projects that every student will take a full course load. However, most FAMU students actually take fewer credit hours when college costs go up. Pell Grant increases have not reversed this trend.

With the price increases, FAMU is likely to stay on top of the State University System’s student debt list. FAMU students graduate with about $30,000 in debt each – the largest reported number among Florida’s public universities.

FAMU trustees did not consider any major fee breaks despite the fact that other state universities have adopted fee breaks as a way to generate new revenue.

The board also awarded Ammons a bonus of about $113,750. His base salary is $325,000.

Some news reports pointed out that the presidents of Florida Atlantic and Florida State turned down bonuses due to budget constraints.

Ammons’ bonus, though, was based on his success in navigating FAMU through crises that FAU and FSU did not face. They include getting FAMU’s re-accreditation processes for law, pharmacy, journalism, and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools back on track.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Differential could harm FAMU’s recruitment budget


It was no coincidence that FAMU enrolled some of its largest National Achievement Scholar classes after the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship program was established in 1997.

Former President Frederick S. Humphries strategically took advantage of Bright Futures to relieve strain on the recruitment budget. NAS finalists and semi-finalists from Florida automatically qualify for the Academic Scholarship, which paid 100 percent of tuition and fees.

When FAMU attracted these students, it didn’t have to pay a dime for their tuition and fees because the state picked up the tab. That meant that FAMU only had to cover the relatively inexpensive costs of room and board.

During Bright Futures’ first year in 1997-1998, FAMU ranked number one in NAS recruitment. It also held the top spot in 2000 (with Harvard University tied).

However, the state legislature’s differential tuition law could make it much more expensive for FAMU to compete for NAS students.

The differential permits every public university to hike tuition by an up to 15 percent differential that goes beyond the rates set by the legislature in the annual appropriations bill. The differential will not be covered by Bright Futures.

FAMU has an important decision to make.

Option 1: Require NAS students to pay the differential out-of-pocket.

This is probably the worst option. FAMU’s in-state competitors, particularly UF and FSU, are likely to continue providing full-ride scholarships for NAS students. NAS students help them maintain a high black graduation rate (even while their overall black freshman numbers are declining).

If UF and FSU let NAS students enroll for free while FAMU asks them to come up with hundreds of dollars out-of-pocket, FAMU will be much less competitive.

Option 2: Cover the differential through the recruitment budget.

This option would place an enormous strain on the recruitment budget. FAMU does not receive as much recruitment money from the legislature as UF and FSU. With the recession, corporate donations are also drying up. Wall Street’s financial crisis also negatively affects the interest on the FAMU Foundation accounts that go toward scholarships. Tuition increases are not a reliable source of revenue either because most FAMU students will probably decrease their course loads.

Tacking the differential onto scholarship costs could result in a smaller overall FAMU recruitment budget. That would mean fewer top scholars.

Option 3: Waive the differential for NAS students.

If FAMU waives the differential, then the state legislature will still pay 100 percent of the tuition and fee costs for in-state NAS students at 2008-2009 rates. FAMU will continue to get NAS students at a bargain price.

FAMU’s administration and trustees have a responsibility to think carefully before implementing a differential that could hurt the university’s recruitment program.