- The Washington Times - Friday, October 24, 2003

BALTIMORE (AP) — Hundreds of Morgan State University students, forced out of school for not paying their tuition, are back in class as administrators scramble to raise enrollment to avoid cuts.

The students, who missed weeks of class, are now trying to catch up, and professors are complaining about the disruption.

Teachers in some cases are “refusing to give make-up work, or let these students back in class,” according to a memo from P. Casenia Wells, the retention coordinator in the College of Liberal Arts .

“In addition, many faculty members are experiencing some frustration with the process and the returning students are pleading … to be placed in classes,” according to the memo, a copy of which was obtained by the Baltimore Sun.

The university dropped 892 of its roughly 7,000 students earlier this semester because of tuition problems. More than 90 percent of the students at the university rely on some form of aid and rising tuition and state cuts have reduced the school’s ability to provide the aid.

Faced with the loss of about 13 percent of its student body, school officials began a campaign to help students return to class. An Oct. 6 memo from Tiffany B. McMillan, director of Morgan State’s Office of Retention, called the drop a “crisis.”

The “bottom line,” Miss McMillan wrote, is that “we need to have at least 200 more of these [students] reinstated as soon as possible!”

Colleges must report enrollment to the federal government in early October, and are allowed to revise the totals until Oct. 22. By Wednesday’s deadline, about 350 of the 892 dropped students were back in class and the school was seeking more, said Morgan State spokesman Clinton R. Coleman.

The re-enrollment effort was driven by a desire to help the students and to protect funding, Mr. Coleman said.

“The word was to go out to talk to as many of these students as we can and see what their needs are and how we can help them,” Mr. Coleman said.

Linda Vukovich, director of budget analysis for the University System of Maryland, which does not include Morgan State, said a sudden student decline should not affect state funding for the current school year, but could affect the following year.

“If the [state] says, ‘How are you doing on your fall enrollment,’ and if you’re missing your targets for this fall, someone looking to cut money could say, ‘You’re not meeting the enrollment you say you have. You don’t need this money,’” Miss Vukovich said. “It could lead to problems in your discussions with the governor.”

Federal funding also could be affected, she said.

Mr. Coleman said the situation shows the challenges faced by colleges and students. Tuition at Morgan State rose 9 percent this school year to $5,078, including fees.

“When our budget is cut, we can offer less [aid]. It makes their need greater and our ability to help them less,” Mr. Coleman said.

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