Few Scholarships Granted Solely on Race, Study Says

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Washington--Almost 90 percent of the nation's private colleges and universities offer scholarships for minority-race undergraduates, but race is the sole factor in making awards in only about 14 percent of the programs, according to a new study by the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities.

Based on a survey that drew 315 responses from NAICU's 826 members, the report released here last week revealed that the private institutions responding spent some $114 million on minority-scholarship programs for the 1990-91 academic year.

But only 2.8 percent of the funds involved "are for scholarships in which race is the sole criterion for making an award," NAICU reported.

All but 9 percent of the aid went to undergraduates, according to the report. The average award was $6,800 for undergraduates and $9,000 for graduate students.

Release of the data came as the new Secretary of Education, Lamar Alexander, unveiled a process for a review by his department of the legal questions surrounding race-based scholarships, and as the issue was being aired by a House subcommittee. (See related story on page 26.)

The issue has simmered since late last year, when the Education Department's civil-rights chief stated that institutionally funded scholarships based solely on race were impermissible under federal law.

NAICU undertook the survey to gauge the potential impact of any federal policy shift on the legality of minority scholarships.

According to the report, "most [scholarship] programs use factors in addition to race" when choosing recipients. For example, the survey found that 97 percent of the funds were awarded on the basis of such criteria as academic merit or financial need, along with race.

Richard F. Rosser, the president of NAICU, noted in releasing the report, however, that "independent colleges and universities themselves are the principal source" of money for the programs, with nearly 80 percent of such scholarships coming from the institutions.

About 7 percent of the awards came from federal sources, 4 percent from states, and 9 percent from other channels, the survey found.

Statements that institutionally funded race-specific scholarships risk violating civil-rights law undercut colleges' progress in increasing minority enrollment, Mr. Rosser said at last week's House hearing.--L.S.A.

Vol. 10, Issue 27, Page 04

Published in Print: March 27, 1991, as Few Scholarships Granted Solely on Race, Study Says
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