A short paper recently released by Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of Fastweb.com and FinAid.org, is shaking up the discussion of race and financial aid — specifically, Kantrowitz writes that white students are disproportionately more likely to receive financial aid than their minority counterparts. Kantrowitz’s intro reads as follows:
This paper presents data concerning the distribution of grants and scholarships by race. It debunks the race myth, which claims that minority students receive more than their fair share of scholarships. The reality is that minority students are less likely to win private scholarships or receive merit-based institutional grants than Caucasian students. Among undergraduate students enrolled full-time/full-year in Bachelor’s degree programs at four-year colleges and universities, minority students represent about a third of applicants but slightly more than a quarter of private scholarship recipients. Caucasian students receive more than three-quarters (76%) of all institutional merit-based scholarship and grant funding, even though they represent less than two-thirds (62%) of the student population. Caucasian students are 40% more likely to win private scholarships than minority students.
The whole concept is strikingly against conventional wisdom – in fact, the widespread belief that most grants and scholarships are reserved for women and minorities has led to controversial “white scholarships,” a kind of reverse affirmative action. In attempting to understand why the numbers stand as they do, Kantrowitz postulates that the creators of scholarships look for recipients like themselves. As an example, minorities are less likely to compete in sports like swimming, and downhill skiing, while many scholarships are geared towards these pursuits. Kantrowitz writes:
These statistics demonstrate that, as a whole, private sector scholarship programs tend to perpetuate historical inequities in the distribution of scholarships according to race. This does not appear to be due to deliberate discrimination, but rather as a natural result of the personal interests of the scholarship sponsors.
The Hermitage does a fine and entertaining job of shooting down refutations to Kantrowitz’s paper – check it out.