Across Florida, universities are boasting an increase in enrollment. But one state university is seeing a drastic decrease in students, and more than two years of problem after problem is taking its toll.
The sun shines bright over the campus at Florida A&M University, but the literal expression doesn’t translate to a bright future for this school year.
“We peaked at about 13,000 a couple years ago. We’re down to 10,700,” said Larry Robinson, interim president of FAMU.
Robinson retired, then returned to the historically black university during one of the most tumultuous periods in FAMU history.
“We certainly know in the last year and a half we’ve been dealing with some difficult challenges,” Robinson said.
With fewer students entering academic buildings this year, it results in a drastic decrease of dollars. The university says it's an estimated $12 million loss in two years.
D’Andre Johnson is an out-of-state student at A&M. He says multiple factors have contributed to the decrease in students following the hazing death of 26-year-old Robert Champion two years ago, but he believes the university will rebound.
“The band was primarily the hazing incident and we still have freshman that come here. I think that’s something we can get past,” said Johnson.
Other students feel there are other reasons for the decline in enrollment.
“I guess the increase in tuition,” said one student.
University officials say its not an isolated issue, and points to strict credit ratings needed to get a college loan.
“With the combination of things going on, particularly the financial difficulties our students and their parents are facing, we knew it’d lead to an additional decrease,” Robinson said.
The school says it will work to overcome this obstacle, like the others they’ve faced in recent years.
Although enrollment has decreased among undergrads, there has been an increase among grad students.