New Financial Aid Program in Florida Likely Will Benefit African-American College Students

In the fall of 2005 there were 626 fewer black first-year students who enrolled at state-operated universities in Florida than was the case the previous year. While race is not permitted to be used as a factor in the admissions process at public universities in Florida, most experts agree that the primary reason for the decline in black enrollments is due to the rising costs of tuition and other fees.

In an attempt to make college affordable for more low-income students, the state Senate has approved the First Generation Matching Grant Program. The program, which has the support of Governor Jeb Bush, is available to students of all races who are the first in the family to go to college. Students who qualify for the program must be eligible for a federal Pell Grant award. Because blacks in Florida make up a large percentage of the group of low-income, first-generation college students, it is expected that the grant program, which is race neutral on its face, will disproportionately benefit African Americans.