By: Fisk University
In an effort to clarify the contending stories surrounding the issue of Fisk University’s student balance policy, the University would like to make the following statement.
Thursday’s student protest comes on the heels of a 2-hour town hall meeting with the university’s senior leadership team. The focus of the town hall as well as the protest is a policy that was announced in December 2022 requiring students to maintain their account balances below a minimum threshold. This policy went into effect this fall 2023 and requires students to demonstrate their commitment to not exceed that balance threshold prior to the beginning of the next semester.
Students have until September 8th to make arrangements (including setting up payment plans) for the fall semester to avoid being disenrolled until they can meet their financial obligations. The administration is doing everything in its power to support students in their efforts to meet these obligations and every office from financial aid to student accounts is available to meet with students individually. Faculty have been notified and students are able to attend classes until the deadline of September 8th.
The commitment to maintaining a minimum balance policy and requiring students to uphold the financial obligations of a Fisk education has been in effect for several years. Nevertheless, federal COVID funding has enabled the University to provide unprecedented assistance to students by eliminating outstanding balances up to January of 2023. The University repeatedly communicated the unprecedented and one-time nature of this federal support to prepare students to meet their subsequent financial obligations. Allowing students to defer their financial obligations not only undermines the University’s ability to meet its fiscal responsibilities but also the student’s ability to successfully matriculate from the University.
Every year, Fisk University supports students with more than $10,000,000 in institutional scholarships, which amount to roughly 50% of all tuition costs. That said, to run a sustainable viable operation, it is necessary for Fisk to address its receivables, and this is a shared responsibility. Fisk University has operated for 5 consecutive years in the black and has recently delivered some of the best student outcomes in the country according to Forbes magazine. The University leadership is deeply dedicated to investing in students but also depends on students to invest in their education.
In recent years, Fisk has experienced a major upswing that includes a campus infrastructure overhaul. The new 300-bed residence hall will be ready for next fall’s incoming class and the university is working tirelessly to address its aging infrastructure. With a 70% increase in enrollment over the past five years, the University is committed to providing the best possible student experience and the highest return on investment.
Frank L. Sims