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The Growing Trend for Merit-Based Financial Aid at the State Level is Bad News for College-Bound Blacks:

Two decades ago, in 1986, more than 86 percent of all federal financial aid for college students was based on need. Today, less than 60 percent of all federal financial aid goes to students in need. According to a recent report from the National Association of State Student Grant & Aid Programs, the merit aid trend that is so harmful to college-bound low-income students, a disproportionate percentage of whom are black, is now developing at the state level. Nationwide, 67 percent of all financial aid for college students awarded by state governments is need based. This is down from 81 percent in 1999.

In 2004 six states — Arizona, Hawaii, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, and Wyoming — offered varying levels of need-based aid and no awards based entirely on merit. Four years ago there were 14 states that offered only need-based aid.

Twelve states — mostly in the South — offered more merit-based aid than need-based aid. In these southern states there are large numbers of low-income black students who need financial assistance in order to bear the costs of a college education.

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