By Mari Pothier | firstname.lastname@example.org
Jillian McClure knows the true value of the Florida Resident Access Grant.
Two juniors, McClure and Carla Valor, working through Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida, were chosen to be the Presidential Fellows representing Flagler College. Their job is to promote the importance of FRAG to fellow students and state representatives.
“We want them to know how much we appreciate it,” McClure said.
According to the Florida Department of Education, FRAG is a grant program provided by the state of Florida for Florida residents attending undergraduate private colleges and universities.
But recently, the amount that students receive through this grant has gone down. According to Christopher Haffner, the director of financial aid at Flagler College, Florida residents this year received $2,511, which is an 11.5 percent decrease since last year. Two years ago students were receiving $3,000.
“Any reduction affects our students,” Haffner said.
According to McClure, Gov. Charlie Crist expects FRAG will be cut by 30 percent.
The total number of Flagler College students receiving FRAG for the 2009-2010 school year is 1,773, Haffner said. Without FRAG, many students attending private institutions like Flagler would not be able to afford to attend these schools.
According to ICUF, their institutions only receive 1.3 percent of Florida’s higher education budget. With that, ICUF schools account for 26 percent of the baccalaureate degrees in the state and, “44 percent of FRAG recipients are minority status.” Also FRAG alleviates state universities and community colleges from becoming burdened by even more students, according to ICUF.
“For some students loss of grant money may require students go to state school,” Haffner said.
Not everyone agrees with how the state uses FRAG. According to the editorial “Serve Those Who Need” in the Orlando Sentinel, the author, who is not named, feels that FRAG should be based on financial need.
“Why should Florida taxpayers subsidize the college education of students from wealthy families whose selection of a college has nothing to do with a small grant?” the author said.
The author also discusses how private colleges need to be responsible with their money. “But it’s hard to generate a lot of sympathy when the recently departed President of Nova Southeastern University raked in $1.2 million in 2008,” the author said.
But McClure said FRAG also helps out-of-state students attending private institutions. According to McClure, it helps private colleges and universities keep out-of-state tuition the same as in state tuition.
Lauren Avard, sophomore at Flagler College from South Carolina, said without FRAG, she would not be able to attend the college. “The FRAG is very much a blessing and very important to our school,” Avard said.
Currently, McClure and Valor are heading a grassroots campaign at Flagler College called Love the FRAG to raise awareness. Through this campaign they have made lawn signs, a Facebook group and have held an event. Free pizza was given to students in exchange for their signatures on a postcard that will be sent to the state representatives.
“I wouldn’t be at Flagler if it weren’t for the FRAG,” McClure said. “I can’t imagine myself anywhere else.”