The Future of Race-Based Scholarships in Higher Education

Recently, The New York Times published a front-page story noting that large numbers of colleges are now offering scholarships to whites that previously had been earmarked exclusively for blacks. This is in response to legal threats from right-wing groups that are making every effort to undercut affirmative action.

The Times story is old hat. JBHE has been on the case for years.

On several occasions JBHE has published a list of private scholarships earmarked for blacks. These scholarships are all private in nature and in many cases are set up by concerned citizens under private wills and trusts.

Does the current interpretation of the law mean that all of these scholarships will have to be abandoned or opened to whites, contrary to the intent of the donors?

Why are scholarships based on race so important? New evidence shows that eliminating the racial requirement can have a profound negative impact on opportunities for blacks even when other qualifying requirements are added. In 2005 Washington University in St. Louis decided to open up its black-only scholarships to students of all races. This year, the first under the new guidelines, 12 of the 42 scholarship recipients are white.