New Tennessee Education Lottery Is Bypassing Those Who Need It Most

The Tennessee Education Lottery was implemented to raise money to fund college scholarships for students in the state who achieve a score of at least 21 on the American College Testing Program’s ACT test and who maintained a 3.0 grade point average while in high school.

But an analysis of state lottery scholarship grants conducted by the Chattanooga Times Free Press finds that the average scholarship award winner in the paper’s readership area comes from a family that has a median income of $71,980, more than twice the average for families in Tennessee. The study also found that even in the state’s poorest counties, many with large black populations, the typical lottery winners come from families with incomes higher than the statewide average and double the median income of all families in the county.

The Tennessee Education Lottery does offer a boost of an additional $1,500 for students who come from low-income families. But the additional money doesn’t help if these students can’t reach the minimum requirement of a score of 21 on the ACT test. Nationwide, the mean black student score on the ACT is 17.