In the Southern States, Where There Are Large Numbers of College-Bound Black Students, Most Grants Are Based on Merit, Not Need

Last week JBHE reported that a new survey issued by the National Association for State Student Grants and Aid Programs found that 63 percent of all financial aid for college and graduate students awarded by state governments nationwide is need based.

But there are wide differences in the amount of need-based aid given out by the 50 states.

In 2007 Rhode Island, California, Hawaii, Montana, and Wyoming were the only states offering varying levels of need-based aid with no awards based solely on merit. In 2007 there were 10 additional states where 90 percent or more of all financial aid was based on need. These states include New York, Maryland, Illinois, and Pennsylvania, all states with large black populations.

In 2007, 20 states — up from 12 in 2004 — offered more merit-based aid than need-based aid to undergraduate students. This is a serious trend because many of these states are in the South where there are large numbers of low-income black students who need financial assistance in order to bear the costs of a college education. In Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, and Tennessee, less than one quarter of state aid is need based. In Georgia, 99.7 percent of all state financial aid for college students has a merit component.