After months of bad headlines stemming from the hazing death of a band member and subsequent investigations into the school’s finances, Florida A&M University is now experiencing a steep decline in enrollment. The enrollment drop comes with its share of problems, but some university officials say it also has a bright side.
This year, the school will have 1200 fewer students, and a smaller freshman class is contributing to about a third of the dropoff. FAMU has been under pressure from the state to tighten up on who it accepts. But William Hudson, FAMU’s Student Affairs Vice President, says while there are fewer freshman, they are better prepared than in year’s past.
“At this point, I think the average GPA is a 3.2. Previously, it’s gone from a 3.0 and a 3.1. We’re going to try to increase our freshman enrollment with a better quality of students.”
FAMU is trying to increase passage rates on certification exams and lower the amount of time it takes for students to graduate. It hopes more qualified students will begin to move it in that direction.
“In some ways it signifies students’ preparedness for college, when they have higher high school GPA’s and they perform better on the SAT and ACT. It doesn’t necessarily mean they will perform at a higher level, it’s just an indicator that you may have students who are better prepared for the rigor of college," Hudson said.
But the school will have to work toward those goals with less money. Fewer students means less income from tuition which is now a primary funding source for FAMU due to state budget cuts.