In light of the rising costs of obtaining a college education, students at Howard University are reaching into their own pockets in an effort to secure financial assistance for future students.
The Self-Help program, developed by members of the Howard University Students Association, is simple: Each student will add $5 to the current $35 activity fee each semester, which will go into a student loan fund. Money for the program will also be solicited from private corporations and alumni.
Under the plan, any full-time student is eligible to receive an interest-free loan of up to $300 per semester. The loan must be repaid before the student can register for the next semester or receive a diploma. The program is expected to go into effect in January 1989, pending approval from the university Board of Trustees, which votes in January.
Student officials say they hope to solicit a base of $60,000 a semester, and build the fund to $500,000 by 1993. The program will be administered by the Office of Financial Aid and a financial advisory committee governed by the student association. Half of the money will go to the loan fund, while the rest will be used for investments.
"This program is geared toward keeping black students in school. In addition to government help, we need to start doing for ourselves and stop waiting for other people to come up with solutions for our problems," said student association President Fritz Gerald Jean.
Thus far, the idea has gained widespread endorsement from administrators and students. It was approved recently in a student referendum.
"I think it's a good idea. People should be able to give $5 to help another student," said Trinette Jones, a junior communications major. "I know several people who depend on financial aid and if they didn't have some resources, it would be devastating."
The program was the idea of Jean and student association Vice President Craig Bedford, in response to Reagan administration cuts in funding for college education.
Thirty-seven percent of the 12,000 students enrolled at Howard receive some financial aid. Tuition alone for a full-time student at Howard is about $4,000 annually.
In keeping with the association's theme, "Strategies for Black Empowerment in the 21st Century," Jean said, "We have got to think about the future and this program will lead toward financial independence."
Eric Grant, a finance major and chairman of alumni collections for the program, said "Initially, the program is not going to benefit many people. Sixty thousand dollars goes fast. Our goal is to establish a long-term effort that we hope will have a snowball effect."