Do You Enjoy A College Scholarship Advantage?

Last Updated Sep 6, 2011 11:56 AM EDT

A new scholarship study conducted by Mark Kantrowitz, the publisher of FinAid and Fastweb, explodes the myth that minorities receive more than their fair share of college scholarships. It's actually white students who attract the outsized share of scholarship dollars from private scholarship providers, as well as from colleges and universities.

Who Enjoys the Scholarship Advantage

According to the research, white students enjoy a huge advantage winning private scholarships, which are often awarded by nonprofits organizations and foundations. White students are 40% more likely to capture private scholarships than minority students. Here is a breakdown of what groups are receiving private scholarships:


To put African-American and Hispanic students on equal footing with white students, the annual private scholarship awards would have to be increased by $83 million and $197 million respectively.

The scholarship advantage is also prevalent among colleges and universities that award merit scholarships. White students, according to the study, receive 76% of all merit scholarships from colleges even though they represent 62% of students. Minority students receive 24.4% of scholarships from colleges even though they represent 38% of the student population.

Bottom Line:

White students' advantage in winning private scholarships does not appear to be the result of deliberate discrimination. Rather scholarship providers select criteria that reflect their interests that happen to favor white students. For instance, minorities are less likely to qualify for scholarships that require participation in horseback riding, golf, sailing, swimming and ice hockey.

At private universities, minority students are receiving need-based financial aid at comparable levels as white students. Shifting more college aid to need-based aid rather than giving merit scholarships to wealthy students would yield more balance in the distribution of institutional grants to all races. I don't, however, think this will ever happen.

Lynn O'Shaughnessy is author of The College Solution, an Amazon bestseller, and the Shrinking the Cost of College workbook. She also writes her own college blog at The College Solution.

Read More on The College Solution:

Where Professors Send Their Children to College
25 Private Colleges With the Best Graduation Rates
25 Facts About Today's College Freshmen
College scholarship image by doctorwonder. CC 2.0.

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