The Florida Resident Access Grant (FRAG), a scholarship given to all Florida residents who attend private universities, was raised by $481 dollars last year. But that isn’t enough for John Constantinide.
Constantinide, speaker pro tempore of the Senate in Student Government, said each state resident student attending a private university currently receives $2,000 to $3,000 per year. The money comes from the state of Florida and decisions on the FRAG are made by the state legislature.
The speaker is lobbying for the grant to increase to at least $3,000 per student per year-the current FRAG amount is $2,711.
The grant helps students in their educational pursuits and gives them more opportunities for their college degree, Constantinide said. Some private universities attend to specific or special needs for students and the FRAG lets the students choose exactly where to attend school more easily.
“People have this idea that attending a private university is some incredible thing, but it shouldn’t be,” he said.
Constantinide pointed out that the FRAG does not just benefit Florida residents, but non-residents as well. With more government money going to Florida residents, the private universities will be able to open their checkbooks for non-residents.
But even if the FRAG reaches $3,000, it should not be set in stone at that amount. Constantinide said the grant should be adjusted periodically for increases in tuition at universities, increases in the cost of living and in inflation.
Gov. Jeb Bush supports the FRAG, Constantinide said, but it still has to compete with other programs, including state university programs. Millions of dollars go to public universities in the state, he said.
“The state of Florida is giving [private universities]pennies compared to what they’re pumping into state colleges,” he added.
UM freshman Lennae Crawford said the FRAG encourages people to go to college who normally wouldn’t.
“A lot of people can’t afford to go to college and [the FRAG]gives them more opportunities,” she said, adding that the FRAG especially helps those who attend inexpensive universities.
The Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida (ICUF) lobbied for the FRAG to increase to $3,000. In their 2003 document “Supercharge Florida’s Economy,” ICUF argues that the grant educates minority, urban and working students whose incomes are lower than students at public universities.
Constantinide, who is also an appointed presidential fellow for ICUF, said that not much has been done to promote the FRAG and some students do not know what it is. To fix that, the Student Government cabinet will have several sessions in the UC Breezeway in the future. But that alone is not all that should be done, Constantinide said.
“UM should take a more active role in the office of admissions in promoting the FRAG,” he said.
There are two main things students should know about the FRAG, said Constantinide. First, they should know it is not just for Florida residents. Second, if students want to keep the FRAG, Constantinide urged that they should voice their support and write to their state representative or a newspaper.
Sam West can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.