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Study: Whites receive disproportionate share of college grants, scholarship funds (graph)

The founder of the influential Fastweb.com and FinAid.org websites wrote a short research paper two weeks ago arguing college minorities receive a disproportionately smaller share of available private scholarships and grant funding. The paper has received renewed attention after popular blog Freakonomics mentioned it Monday. Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of the two college funding self-help and resource sites, wrote minority students enrolled as full-time in four-year institutes represent one-third of the student body population but are awarded only a quarter of private scholarships. Caucasians with the same enrollment status win 76 percent of available merit-based scholarships and grants, despite accounting for less than two-thirds of the U.S. student population.

His report begins with an example of a student creating a “Whites-Only” scholarship under what he calls the “myth” that minority students are catered to with financial rewards on a non-merit basis. He argues the outcry against perceived unfair treatment from a small number of white students belies the data.

Kantrowitz continues:

These “Whites Only” scholarships are usually created by students who are frustrated at their own inability to find and win scholarships. Nationwide, only about 1 in 20 (5.5%) of undergraduate students and about 1 in 8 (12.1%) of full-time Bachelor’s degree students at 4-year colleges and universities pay for college with private scholarships. The average amount per recipient used per year is only about $2,500 to $3,000.

While the odds of winning a private scholarship are somewhat higher for Caucasian students, most families tend to overestimate their eligibility for merit-based scholarships.

A chart breaking down funds received by race:

Image has not been found. URL: http://images.americanindependent.com/private-scholarship-dollars.jpgMark Kantrowitz Publisher of Fastweb.com and FinAid.org

The report does note a pivot in distribution when need-based awards come into play, like the Pell Grant. Kantrowitz writes:

Minority students receive more need-based grants because minority students are more likely to be low income than Caucasian students. Of students who submitted the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), 83.0% of African-American students, 79.6% of Latino students and 69.5% of Asian students are low-income, compared with only 55.3% of Caucasian students.

Elsewhere, federal data tracking education and benchmarks like high school dropout rates and college acceptance rates along racial lines show a gap in performance among Hispanics, African-Americans and Caucasians.

According to state-by-state high school graduation rates for 2008-2009 published by the U.S. Department of Education, the most recent year for which data was collected, 82 percent of white 9th graders graduate from high school, compared to 63.5 percent for African-Americans, and 65 percent for Hispanics. Asian Americans lead the field with a graduation rate of 91.8 percent.

The department also compiles data on all persons over the age 25 who possess a degree by race. Among blacks, 17 percent have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher; whites 30.4 percent; Hispanics 12.6 percent; Asians 49.7 percent; while the country on a whole has 27.4 percent of its over-25 population possessing a bachelor’s degree or higher according to 2011 numbers spanning 2006-2008.

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