Florida Atlantic University Will Offer Full Scholarships for Black Applicants
By Mark Walsh
Florida Atlantic University, a state institution in Boca Raton, Fla., is seeking to attract more black students with an offer of full-tuition scholarships for all qualified black applicants.
The offer, announced March 7 by university officials, is believed to be the only program of its type in the nation. Publicity about the offer generated phone calls to the university from prospective students from as far away as Denver and Toronto.
Florida Atlantic is primarily a regional institution, officials said. It is seeking to boost enrollment of blacks with a goal of better reflecting the racial makeup in the general population of surrounding Broward and Palm Beach counties, which are 11.2 percent and 13.5 percent black, respectively.
The university had a fall enrollment of 11,278, of which 5.2 percent was black. Of 359 freshman, 28 were black, or 7.7 percent.
The Florida Board of Regents has voted to lift, beginning this fall, the university's freshman-enrollment target from 360 to 550. Through the tuition scholarship program, Florida Atlantic hopes to increase the number of black freshmen in the41990 class to 42.
"To increase those numbers, we have to provide adequate scholarships," said Anthony Catanese, president of Florida Atlantic, in announcing the program. "Every one of the minority students we seek is already targeted by other institutions for scholarship assistance."
The university's budget included scholarships for 30 black students this year. It has set the figure at 45 Private donations will be sought to provide additional scholarships, if the number of qualified applicants exceeds that figure, officials said. Tuition next year is expected to be $1,350 for state students.
"We hope that does happen," said James W. Spear, executive assistant to the president. "If we get a higher proportion, we are going to go out and raise whatever money is necessary to fund those students on a scholarship basis."
He stressed that the awards are academic scholarships, so students must meet high academic standards to receive one.
Of the 28 black students in the freshman class, 85 percent also qualified for additional financial aid to help pay for housing and other expenses, Mr. Spear said.
University officials also stressed that recruitment of blacks would not interfere with the enrollment of white students, because the overall size of the freshman class is being greatly expanded in the fall.
The university has also recently established a dual-degree program with predominantly black Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach. It allows engineering students from Bethune-Cookman to transfer to Florida Atlantic with full scholarships.
The only other U.S. college believed to offer a program of free tuition to black students is Lemoyne-Owens College in Memphis, which began a program this year for black male students from the inner city who stayed off drugs.