While university enrollment is up this year in Florida, fewer black students are enrolling in upper division schools. Even before the decline, black males in Florida were half as likely to get a college education as black women.
Black student enrollment is down almost 10 percent at Florida’s universities. At the same time, community colleges have seen a 21 percent increase in black students in the past five years. Many students say it’s a matter of money.
Community college student Taron Bruner adds, “I’m paying out of the pocket ‘cause I’m doing it all on my own. I can’t afford a university without a scholarship.”
Black college enrollment is down this year at most Florida universities, including historically black Florida A&M University. Black women are twice as likely to attend a university as black males.
Rep. Curtis Richardson says Gov. Jeb Bush’s elimination of affirmative action has hurt an already disadvantaged group.
“We’ve seen more African-American men entering our jails and prisons throughout the state. It’s certain we have to take a look at this, it’s reached crisis proportions," said Richardson.
Rep. Richardson hopes to see more funding for programs that work like the one Tommy Mitchell runs at FAMU called Black Male College Explorers.
Tommy Mitchell with Black Male College Explorers shared, “This is a focused effort to help black men understand if they are going to college, here are a few things they have to do in terms of their behavior.”
While programs like the explorers help others believe Florida has to make bright futures scholarships available to more minorities if the state hopes to increase African-American enrollment at its universities.
A spokesman for the Department of Education’s Division of Community Colleges credits the increase in black enrollment at community colleges to outreach initiatives and affordability.