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Less Aid Going to Minorities, Study Finds

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ca The number of minority students receiving financial aid at public colleges and universities dropped by 12.4 percent between 1981-82 and 1983-84, according to an analysis released this month by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.

The study, which reported that the number of aid recipients from minority groups fell from 609,303 to 533,596 over the two-year period, adds to a growing body of data indicating that a decreasing proportion of minority students are attending college. (See Education Week, April 17, 1985.)

Another study, the American Council on Education's "Access to Higher Education: The Experience of Blacks, Hispanics, and Low Socio-Economic Status Whites," last month reported that minorities and low-income youth "continue to be underrepresented" in colleges and universities nationwide.

Drop in Recipients, Volume

The sharp decline in aid to minority students "deserves close scrutiny by policymakers and the higher-education community," according to the financial-aid study, which was conducted by Jacob O. Stampen, professor of educational administration at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Mr. Stampen suggested that the federal government's effort to make students bear a greater share of college costs through loans rather than grants may have discouraged many minority families. He also said cuts in federal spending for domestic programs may have caused minority students to drop out and seek employment to supplement family incomes.

According to the aascu study, nearly 30 percent of public-college students--or about 3 million of the 9.7 million students enrolled--received financial aid from sources outside their families, mainly from their colleges and from federal and state-government programs.

The number of public-college students receiving financial aid dropped by 2.3 percent between 1981-82 and 1983-84, while total aid awarded fell by 7 percent, from $7.2 billion to $6.7 billion, the study said.

The federal government's support for public-college financial aid declined by $300 million and institutional support declined by $173 million over the two-year period, the report said. At the same time, state-subsidized student aid increased by $26 million and aid from all private sources increased by $5 million.

More than 85 percent of students at public colleges have family or personal incomes below the national median and about half are at or below the poverty line, according to the study.

It said that the proportion of students receiving aid who were members of minority groups fell from 32 percent in 1981-82 to less than 29 percent two years later. Minority students represent about 17 percent of college students at all higher-education institutions, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

More aid recipients were white, older, independent, married, and attending college on a part-time basis, the Stampen report found, although some 90 percent of public-college students are single and attend full time.

Merit vs. Need

The report, "Student Aid and Public Higher Education: Recent Changes," was based on an analysis of the financial-aid records of more than 10,000 students at 216 public colleges and universities with enrollments of 500 or more.

The study confirmed a significant shift away from need-based grants. The number of grants awarded on the basis of scholastic merit increased by nearly one-third during the period covered by the survey, while the number of grants awarded on the basis of need fell by 5.5 percent, the report said.

About half of the recipients of financial aid at public colleges worked during the school year and about three-quarters worked during the summer.

Copies of the report are available for $5 each from aascu Publications, One Dupont Circle, Suite 700, Washington, D.C. 20036.

Copies of the ace study are available at no cost from the Division of Policy Analysis and Research, American Council on Education, One Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C. 20036-1193.--sr

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