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Scholarships Based on Race Said To Be Rare

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Only 3 percent of the nation's colleges and universities award any grants or scholarships solely on the basis of race, and 72 percent of these race-exclusive award programs are funded by private or institutional money, according to a survey by the College Board.

Moreover, only 0.3 percent of all non-need-based scholarships for the 1989-90 academic year were based solely on race; 3 percent were based on minority status without regard to need, although such other criteria as academic achievement or leadership were possible considerations; and 4 percent of all awards were based on race and financial need, according to the survey of 1,000 schools.

The findings mirror those presented last month to a Congressional subcommittee by the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. A survey of 315 private schools by the organization revealed that scholarships given by those institutions solely on the basis of race accounted for only 2.8 percent of all awards for the 1990-91 academic year. (See Education Week, March 27, 1991.)

Higher-education officials have been monitoring the legal status of race-exclusive scholarships since last December, when Michael L. Williams, the U.S. Education Department's assistant secretary for civil rights, declared them illegal unless funded by private sources. Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander has said he will review the policy over the next several months.

"I hope these findings shed some light on the issue of race-specific awards and urge the Secretary of Education to hasten his review of minority scholarship policy," said Donald M. Stewart, president of the College Board. "Delay will merely compound the confusion of minority students, who are sensitive to the slightest rumor that financial aid is in jeopardy."

According to the survey, each institution that awards race-exclusive grants and scholarships typically makes 33 such awards each year at an average of $1,715 per award.

Of such awards--which totaled $2.4 million for the 1989-90 academic year--46 percent were funded by the institution, 26 percent were privately funded, and 22 percent were paid for with federal, state, or local funds, the survey said.--mp

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