A crowd gathered at Florida A&M University Wednesday to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. Speakers from the community touched on the importance of the 1963 march and the relevance to the struggles of today. Karl Etters/ Democrat
Florida A&M University is coping with a dramatic decline in enrollment for the second straight year.
The preliminary unofficial enrollment for the Fall 2013 semester is 10,786, down more than 1,250 from the previous year and about 2,500 fewer students than two years ago.
FAMU, which receives more revenue from tuition than it does from the state, is preparing for a second straight $6 million loss as a result of the decline in enrollment, interim President Larry Robinson said.
FAMU's beleaguered athletics department, which has been losing on average $1 million a year for the past six years, is also affected by the decline in enrollment because student fees are an important source of funding for the university's intercollegiate sports programs.
"Every dime we get is important, and there are a whole lot of things we could do with those monies if we had them," Robinson said.
There are multiple reasons for FAMU's loss of students, and other historically black institutions are experiencing similar declines.
The U.S. Department of Education changed the Student-Plus loan last year, requiring recipients to have a sound credit rating.
"That sent shock waves through the HBCU community," Robinson said. "Many of us have students who are in lower economic brackets and their families have a much more difficult time with credit."