A Debt Free Road to “New York City”

Charles Magee, PhD, Professor

Biological and Agricultural Systems Engineering (BASE)

Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU)

New York City, one of the world’s greatest metropolis, and a city where one can find love, joy, happiness, sadness, and all the material things the world has to offer. At some point every man, woman, or child would like to visit New York City. In this case, New York City is just a metaphor for reaching one’s goal in life. For many parents with children getting ready to embark on a college education, “New York City” would be for their child to graduate from college debt free. If one were to look at a map of the United States you would see that there are many roads to New York City; county roads (work & loans), state roads (parents pay), US highways (federal financial aid), and interstate highways (scholarships). The road you take to New York City will depend on where you live. The road to a debt free college graduation for your child will probably depend on financial aid and scholarships received.

It is a fact that financial aid will not cover all the expenses of a college education, and only a hand full of students are able to travel the interstate (full scholarships) route to a debt free college education. However, just like traveling to New York City you must travel a combination of roads to get there. If your child is unable to travel the interstate to “New York City,” the Biological and Agricultural Systems Engineering (BASE) program at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) would like to identify some other roads your child can travel at FAMU and probably graduate from college debt free.

Out of State Students:

Scenario 1: GPA 3.50/4.00; Test Score: ACT> 27 or SAT > 1800

The current estimated annual cost for an out of state student to attend FAMU is around $32,000 dollars.

Financial Resources:

BASE Scholarship*                                                    $17,000

Out of State Tuition Waivers                                     $10,000

University and College Scholarships                         $5,000

 

Total          $32,000

 

*All students on BASE scholarships are eligible to compete for paid summer internships with USDA agencies.

Scenario 2: GPA > 3.00/4.00; Score: ACT > 24 or SAT > 1600

Financial Resources:

BASE Scholarship*                                                    $16,000

Out of State Tuition Waivers                                     $10,000

University and College Scholarships                        $5,000

Student Contributions                                                $1,000

 

Total          $32,000

 

In State Students:

Scenario 1: GPA > 3.50/4.00; Test Score: ACT > 27 or SAT > 1800

The current estimated annual cost for an in state student to attend FAMU is around $15,000 dollars.

Financial Resources:

BASE Scholarship*                                                    $10,000

University and College Scholarships                        $5,000

 

Total          $15,000

Scenario 2: GPA > 3.00/4.00; Score: ACT > 24 or SAT > 1600

Financial Resources:

BASE Scholarship*                                                    $8,000

University and College Scholarships                        $5,000

Student Contributions                                                $1,000

Parents Contributions                                                 $1,000

 

Total          $15,000

*All students on BASE scholarships are eligible to compete for paid summer internships with USDA agencies.

Beyond the scholarships in BASE, there are some career and philosophical reasons why your child should consider BASE as a major. Some of the reasons are the following:

  • In 2009, the BASE program was identified by the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) as a STEM program of excellence.
  • The BASE program is an ABET accredited engineering program.
  • Graduates of the BASE program have pursued graduate study at 21 plus universities.
  • Seven of BASE’s graduates have earned PhD degrees. The degrees were earned in the following fields and universities:

Field                                                          University

Agricultural Engineering                        University of Florida

Biological Engineering                           University of Arizona

Biological & Environmental                  Cornell University

Engineering

Biomedical Engineering                         University of Florida

Environmental Toxicology                    FAMU

Molecular Biology                                    University of Alabama-Birmingham

Higher Ed. Administration                    University of Illinois-Chicago

  • More than 50% of BASE’s graduates have pursued advanced degrees.
  • The first African American female to earn a PhD degree in Biological and Environmental Engineering from Cornell University is a BASE graduate.
  • All graduates of the BASE program have gained employment within six months after graduation.
  • A sample of employers of BASE graduates is the following:

Archer Daniel Midland (ADM)

Cargill

Pepsico

Gator Ade

Kraft

Tyson

J.P. Morgan Chase

USDA/NRCS

EPA

Eli Lilly

United States Patent & Trademark Office

University of Florida

Oregon State University

Cornell University

U S Federal Highway Dept.

Chicago Public School System

Texas Dept. of Environmental Protection

Stetson University

Anderson Consulting

Now let me address the myth that if you send your child to a Historically Black College or University (HBCU) they will receive an inferior education. Yes, the majority institutions may have more money and better facilities, but the question you should ask yourself is; do they have a greater commitment to the education of your child, especially in the STEM fields. It may appear to be the case. However, take the case of the little old man named Joseph Buzzardbread. All of his life both adults and children in his community made fun of his name, so he finally got fed up and petitioned the court to have his name changed. When his case came before the judge, the judge asked the little old man what is the nature of your case. The little old man said, your honor I would like to change my name, and the judge said with the name Buzzardbread I can understand your desire. The judge then granted the little old man his request, and asked the little old man what would you like to change your name to; the little old man paused, and said Henry. The point of this anecdotal story is to demonstrate that things are not always as they appear to be. I can tell you that your child will receive a great education in BASE at FAMU and you may doubt it, but if your child experiences a BASE education for himself or herself they cannot doubt it.

Further, it has been stated that the majority of the students at HBCUs are “chunks of coal,” meaning that they are not college material. Well, the last time I checked both coal and diamonds are carbon based elements and with enough pressure and nurturing coal can be turned into diamonds. We also know that coal is a form of energy and the first law of thermodynamics states that energy can be neither created nor destroyed but can be transformed from one form to another. This is what we do at FAMU, include students that have been deemed to be chunks of coal and transform them into diamonds. At FAMU we don’t give degrees, but we do give all students an opportunity to earn a degree.

Lastly, it has been said that in life we seldom get a second chance, under the same circumstances, to make a life changing decision. And the great difference between those individuals who succeed in life and those who fail is how he or she uses his or her first chance. This is your child’s opportunity to select a college major that will provide a secure future, career, and possibly a debt free college education.