Wildcats use ‘side hustles’ to stay in school
By Rennae Morgan
Bethune-Cookman University's new get-tough stance requiring that a student's balance be cleared before starting classes this year caught many Wildcats by surprise, forcing some to leave and others to become creative to ensure their balances were covered.
Tuition, room and board, along with student fees for a full-time undergraduate student is $24, 276 for the 2019-2020 school year. Graduate tuition and fees are $14,100 for the year.
Students, until this year, had the option of using a payment plan that allowed them to spread payments out through the year.
Some students went the GoFundMe route and pages popped up on social media asking for help.
According to B-CU's new leader, President LaBrent Chrite, officials had no choice but to end the traditional payment plan method as part of the effort to correct some of the school's financial problems left from the Jackson administration.
"We can no longer tolerate the cumulative impact of past-due balances previously owed by so many of our new and returning students. As a private university, tuition revenue enables current operational expenses," Chrite said in a statement.
An email sent out to students during the summer stated that "One-hundred percent of the direct costs (tuition, student fees, room & board if applicable) must be paid in full by utilizing financial aid / or other valid forms of payment."
The correspondence from Student Account Services also stated that students with prior balances were required to pay back only 50 percent before Aug. 15.
Kayla Jones, a junior here, said she was worried. "At first I did not know how I was going to come back," Jones said. "My mom decided we should take out a private loan from Sallie Mae since my financial aid covered most of it. We figured a small loan wouldn't hurt."
Students are facing a new deadline of Oct. 1 to pay any balance for the fall. Seniors that fail to do so will not be allowed to graduate in December, while other students will not be allowed to register for the spring semester.
Many students say they were able to meet their obligation because of money they earned with part-time job or side hustle.
"The reason I have a side hustle is the fact I've been through a lot at a young age such as being adopted, my father being incarcerated and mother passing away from sickness," said Jarrce Sutton, a senior who developed a line of exclusive sweatshirts.
"Those factors molded me into the man I am today. I want to be successful....... I won't stop until I reach my goal," Sutton said, adding he hopes to be a millionaire before the age of 26.
"This side hustle is one of the ways to keep me debt-free," he said, adding that he came up with his own logo after brainstorming ideas of designing a hoodie that will grab "my institution and other HBCUs attention."
"I want students to feel bold, courageous, intelligent, and powerful. The message of my logo means to respect your HBCU because others may not know how brilliant, strong, and creative you are except that HBCU," he said. "I believe it's imperative to have a side hustle in college because the majority of college students are struggling financially."
David Fitzer, a senior, decided to go a more traditional route to earn extra money.
"My side hustles consist of an office job on campus and two off-campus jobs," Fitzer said. "I believe having side hustles are especially important in today's society where new ways never thought possible to make a living are being created."
He also said that all of his three jobs are part-time so his time is divided equally and nothing suffers because of the other.
"I don't just want to pay the bills." he said. "I want to have money left over to still save and enjoy moments of my youth while I still have them left. My advice to students is to know your limits.... limits you set for yourself, you are the ultimate decider of your limits no one else. You just have to know that God has made you strong to handle whatever is thrown your way and I am a firm believer he would not allow me to dream it if I couldn't achieve it."
Rennae Morgan is a senior mass communications major, studying digital production.