A Racial Breakdown of Financial Aid

According to a new report from the U.S. Department of Education, in the 2007–08 academic year, undergraduates received $62 billion in grant aid from a variety of sources. Over the 1996 to 2007 period, the percentage of all undergraduate students receiving merit-based grants increased from 6 percent to 14 percent. During the same period, the percentage of all undergraduates receiving need-based financial aid increased from 32 percent to 37 percent.

In the 2007-08 academic year, 16.4 percent of all white undergraduates received merit-based aid. For all black undergraduates, 11.4 percent received merit-based grants. Just over 30 percent of all white students received scholarship grants based on need, compared to 52.9 percent of all black undergraduates.

If we look only those students attending four-year colleges and universities on a full-time basis, we find that 35.1 percent of white students and 26.9 percent of black students received merit-based grants. Nearly 40 percent of white students and 70.6 percent of black students received need-based financial aid.

Since whites are more likely than blacks to receive merit-based scholarships, the shift in financial aid toward grants based on merit rather than need, as was the case in the 1996 to 2008 period tracked in this study, will benefit whites and lessen the higher educational opportunities of African Americans.

The Department of Education report can be downloaded here.


Comments (38)

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  1. nickel says:

    You have your analysis completely backwards. The way colleges and universities finance their operations the “mainly white students” who can pay the full cost of tuition, room and board are paying about 50% more than they should be for the privelage of attending that school. The extra money is what funds the need based scholarships of which blacks and other minorities are a major beneficiary. The increase in the number of “merit” scholarships in the last fifteen years is a reflection as the cost of a college or university education gets more and more expensive fewer students of any color can afford the quote “Full Tuition, Room and Board” which is the artifically high “rack” rate the schools use to garner enough revenue to then subsidize the need scholarships for the minority and other students. Since the number of white or any race students who can afford the full rate is lower as the cost of colleges and universities soars, they need to offer more and more “merit scholarships” which are really discounts to the rack rates, in order to attract enough full pay students to keep the entire scheme going.

    • James says:

      Nickel, you should run for president, my family would vote for you. My wife and I had to pay the full tuition for my three children, two were twins at the same time, NO GRANTS, NO HELP AT ALL, so that the free loaders can attend. Now my wife and I can not retire, we will have to work until we die.

      • Sara says:

        I am also putting children through college and I feel your pain. We are not rich by any means. When the financial aid advisor showed me the income level needed to receive a grant, he had to flip over 4 pages to get to our income. Really? Hopefully they will forgive my loans after I die. Maybe we can work at the same place until then?

      • Julie V says:

        Actually, Nickel along with his facile, outdated, underlined racist views already ran for president & he won. It is currently called Donald J Trump! Although poc, especially blacks should receive more financial aid due to all they’re forced to endure in this horrid White supremacist society, but honestly no one is seriously ignorant enough to believe that white administratively run institutionas would privilege any other group but their own white kind. Race nepotism is alive & well & will continue until the demographics change! That’s just reality. People are egotistical & selfish. Nothing is ever enough. They want it all even the crumbs. Be proud of your selfishness & ignorance, Nickel!
        You are wrong, Nickel. The article lists factual numbers & states the numbers accurately proving whites are the main recipients of financial aid, unless they are too rich to qualify for financial based aid. You are the one who has it wrong!

        • Jared Kushner says:

          I think you are wrong. Most crimes are commited by blacks, even though they have all the resources available to them for free. Why commit crime? Look up Bill Cosby’s speech on this.

          • Argonic K says:

            Wrong. Whites live in a country where they can fail upwards, be mediocre and still be succesful, yet they commit 70% of the crime. Why aren’t white people satisfied with the unlimited resources they wield in the richest country in the world?

          • Fuck Jared Kushner says:

            Wrong whites commit 60% of all violent crime in America, you also win by large numbers on Rape and sexual crimes against minors. FBI UCR table 14 for 2018. Check for yourself. LMAO

        • Aaron says:

          Right, white supremacist. Even though we have affirmative action policies that benefit everyone except white men? If it were white supremacist wouldn’t you expect the opposite?

        • Fitzgerald says:

          Wow Julie V. No, whats rascist is to say that there is a dedicated website for “african american scholarships” based solely on skin color to qualify. If there was a “caucasion american sholarships” site based on skin color, you can bet sh$t would hit the fan!

          • Shawna Smith says:

            There is a white scholarship fund. It’s called being white in america affords your privilege.

        • Matt says:

          Julie V B careful who you called racist he did call you any names and he did not tell you you were wrong Like you said to him that’s the problem with all your bleeding heart liberal’s you look at crappy statistics that the government puts out to make you believe these supposed social inequalities If you look at actual statistics and not snagged from government websites and propaganda from Fox News and other fake news sites then you would see that everything that he is seeing is 100% factual I worked in this industry for many years figuring the statistics and putting them on paper what is released to you is not actual fact the moment that you believe that your government is telling you the truth is the point where you are a fool Everybody in this country deserves the same rights as the next person be it whatever color of skin race nationality sexual credo so maybe minorities should stop leaning on the fact that some crappy things have and are still happening to them the crappy things happen to people all the time all over the world and we get over it and don’t put it on a specific race so why don’t we all just get over the black white conversation and move on to what really matters loving your fellow man treating everybody the way that you would wanna be treated In other words stop making me try to feel bad for being white

        • Alfred narvitz says:

          Actually Julie V, you just shoved racism in someone’s face and somehow brought the presidents name into it. That’s about as racist as calling a minority a racial slur. So thank you for insulting us for our view. Secondly no one in my family received any sort of financial support as white students. Even through my older brother and sister were both valedictorian. I went a different rout and claimed myself as a minority. I get so much financial aid now. Being black comes with unspoken privileges…..

      • Phillip Elam says:

        To divert the subject and direct the attention to affirmative action was a solution to a problem. This caused inequalities mainly against whites known as reverse discrimination. I as a child was raised in a neighborhood and school system that placed me and my siblings as minorities.

        I have no issues with it today, all my friends were black and it was not always fair for me, I was overlooked in sports, music and other classes such as math and spelling, I dropped out of school in the 9th. grade due to death threats on my life. The principal graduated me 3 months prior to the end of school term.

        The principal told my Dad to put me in a private school, we could not afford it, I got multiple jobs and when I turned 17 I joined the Army.

        Today I’m 63 and have worked hard and built multiple corporations with hundreds of employees of the years.

        I can only imagine if I could have got through school and college what could I have become.

        My Dad worked for the US Postal Service his whole life from when he was an messenger boy at age 15 and when he finished college and served 6 years in the Marine corps and came back to the Postal Service.

        He put in 31 years with the postal service and in the first 21 years a position came up for a supervisor spot he applied for it and took the mandatory test.
        My Dad aced the test only 1 in about 100 people of the entire postal service upto that date.

        My Dad did not get the job, it was given to a black man who made a lower score but because he was black they credited him with points which placed his score higher than my Dads.

        That broke my Dads spirit, he was forced to hire an attorney and started a lawsuit against the Government, the settlement was he got the same pay as if he were in the supervisor spot.

        So this is the same in the grants, and I know racism and I know reverse racism, our country and colleges will fail if equality does not start, equality for races. These children and young adults have had nothing to do with the past in the 50’s-60’s-70’s. When will the crutches stop being abused, people will never walk if their not doing it own.

        Give a man a fish, he’ll eat 1 day! Give a man a fishing pole, he’ll eat for life!
        Same with an education, if it’s not earned then the drive to make it work will fail the majority of the time.

        I have raised my children to defend all, there is no color in my family we are humans. But seeing the kids today, the parent should be ashamed.

    • Liv says:

      You do need to realize that correlation does not equal causation, especially in this context.

    • Matthew says:

      I don’t know about anyone here but I don’t get a penny from financial aid and am having to pay full price by working my way through that means I don’t have as much time for studying like someone who receives financial aid and pays less and it takes away from the quality of my education.

    • Trace A says:

      Nickel, I am not agreeing or disagreeing with what you are saying, in fact I wouldn’t doubt that’s true. I was just curious where, if anywhere, you got your information from?Thanks

    • Jeffrey says:

      IF you want fairness – then the application should be like EUROPE. List only your nationality – but it cant be. That would be considered, EQUAL OPPORTUNITY of AMERICANS WHO WOULD POSSIBLY THEN GET FREE EDUCATION???

  2. nickel says:

    It always surprises me that no one ever responds to the comments? Is there anyone out there who is reading this stuff?

    • Kelly Jordan says:

      I I would like to share my own personal story as it pertains to financial aid… like many Americans, I had to get financial aid and student loans in order to pay for my education. In my first semester, and each subsequent semester, I made the President’s List (a 4.0 gpa) and was therefore granted the Presidential Scholarship of $1,000/semester. I will never forget going into the financial aid office to claim my scholarship only to find out that my Pell Grant money (this is the free scholarship money you don’t have to pay back) had been reduced by the same amount, $1,000… so I was essentially being punished for making good grades.
      My childhood friend, who is a woman of color and belonged to the same tax bracket as me, didn’t have to take out any student loans. With grades just barely good enough to pass, her entire college education, along with money for housing, food and any extra essentials, was paid for with Pell grant money awarded to her based solely on the color of her skin. Both of us have college degrees, but only one of us has any student debt… It just happens to be the one with a 4.0 GPA and white skin.

  3. minora hicks says:

    Yes, many are reading and I know many who are well informed who were previous subscribers to the print edition. This journal is very informative although we may not agree with everything published.

  4. Sukey says:

    The discrepancy between the number of whites and blacks receiving merit based financial aid speaks volumes. The reality is that colleges and universities are wasting time, money and effort on students who are not capable or ill prepared to function on the collegate level.. The state of education in this nation has been circling the drain for years and will continue to do so as long as long as mediocrity, not excellence, is an acceptable goal.

    • EJ says:

      And then there are the standards of online comments (somewhere below mediocrity, it seems).

      • Myke D says:

        EJ, I guess you don’t like it when someone speaks the truth. What Sukey says is 100% correct, but by your reply to their comment, I’m guessing you prefer race-based scholarships over merit-based ones, huh? Being a ‘minority’ should supersede having ability and actually deserving an award because of effort, right? Please.

  5. JR says:

    Don’t the findings of the report tend to show that despite decades of trying to improve the educational system of K through 12 we have failed in neighborhoods that suffer economically.

    • D Tschuor says:

      Of course it does. But aggravated white people refuse to acknowledge that the economic disparity that continues to fuel the educational inequalities continues to create situations where poor people, many of them POC, are unable to break into the middle class because they lack the preparation to succeed in college.

      • Argonic K says:

        White people have very fragile egos. They hate and denigrate a minority group that is purposefully disadvanated. Yet, a when a religious minority group (not even racial), like white Jews out perform them, they hate and denigrate them.

        • H. Roemer says:

          “White people have very fragile egos.” Are you kidding me? This kind of racist drivel should have died decades ago. How is this any different than the sort of gross generalizations like “black people are very lazy”. As for white Jews outperforming whites, I don’t know of anyone ever hating or denigrating them. I think you are just projecting your own biases.

  6. Please understand what is done for one is done for all. No one goes without the basic necesities. What the students do with them is up to how they were raised. It has next to nothing to do with the socio economic situation of the student. says:

    Please understand what is done for one is done for all. No one goes without the basic necessities to receive an education. What the students do with them is up to how they were raised. It has next to nothing to do with the socio economic situation of the student

    • D Tschuor says:

      I’m sorry, but I think you are being disingenuous here. You cannot say that a student who attends a school in an underfunded urban school is having the same educational opportunities as one who attends school in a well-funded suburban community.

      Add to that the class and wealth advantages of growing up in a middle class home over poverty and you magnify the already existent inequities.

      Certainly, I understand your point. I believe you are saying that prioritizing educational opportunities starts at home. That what children are taught to value will determine their success.

      The fallacy in that assumption is that even though a family in urban poverty that stresses the value of an education will not always have the knowledge, experience, or financial resources to sustain a young person through the inevitable pitfalls of completing a degree from an institution of higher ed. Additionally, those pitfalls may be deeper and more confounding than those for young people whose parents have better economic means.

  7. Amy Schroeder says:

    I wonder what the average grant/scholarship is for each type? From what I have been researching merit based awards tend to have higher dollar amounts than need based awards. For example the average Pell grant award which is common to needy students only pays on average 1/3 the annual tuition, while some merit based awards cover four years education. (I know that some does not equal all).
    I am curious and would like to find more information about what exactly constitutes merit. Would two students from different circumstances receive equal consideration when advantages/disadvantages are included? For example, would a disadvantaged student from an mediocre school who works hard but still ends up with a lower SAT receive the same type of consideration as an advantaged student from a better school with college prep classes and a higher SAT? How does a college distinguish between a hardworking B student and a coasting through B student? Can they make the determination on who is more meritorious? On one hand the hardworking student is more meritorious simply based on effort, but the second student could have gotten better grades if they tried, and who knows perhaps during college they will find the motivation to strive? By what process does a college select for merit?
    I appreciate any information that could help resolve my inquiry!

    • Sue says:

      Merit is determined by each scholarship individually, and an SAT score and grades may have nothing to do with it. If a school is trying to attract star football players, the Merit Scholarship will be based on who the school thinks will be an asset to their football team. In that case, who works harder also will not have anything to do with it, it will be case on the sports skill of the person in question. Or, if we say that skill is a result of how hard a person has worked at it, then the difference will be readily apparent. The same thing goes for musicians and any other sports. The number of merit scholarships based on grades and educational merit is a small percentage of the number and dollar amount of merit scholarships. Another example – I was scholarship chairman for a private organization that offered an annual merit scholarship. The qualifying factor was an essay written by the applicant. Identifying information of any kind (name, age, sex, race, etc.) was prohibited in the body of the essay. All essays were judged blind by a *minimum* of 5 people and the scores averaged. Punctuation, spelling and grammar as well as content were the criteria. People who put more effort into learning and more care into their essays, did better.

  8. nunya says:

    Most of these comments are hateful. The people saying college should not be free are selfish. Sure you work to get your kids through college, good job! You working to get your kids through college do not make any other college students less meaningful. You are also insisting that children who are not lucky enough to have parents to give them a full ride to college should not have access to an education. Maybe you all should step in a time machine, and go back to Colonial times when only rich white people could go to college. While you are there, have fun learning mostly about the Puritan faith! Really ignorant, greedy, and entitled people here. Have fun working forever, you are creating lazy children in the process. Don’t complain about a lifestyle that you chose.

  9. Stan says:

    Well there is the military they will pay for it all and just because you are in the military doesn’t mean you go off and fight wars lol it’s the MOS you choose. Keep your kids out of trouble and if you can’t afford to send them the Military is a great option opens so many doors but kids now a days are scared of dedication and discipline. No matter rich or poor. If the young man or woman want that education then do whatever it takes and go get it. National guard has a great program also college first program allows them not to be deployed for up to two years. It’s all based off the job you choose if you are on the front line. Now once they get out there are so many opportunities to go back as a contractor and make well over 100000 a year. Do you realize Afg and Iraq is probably safer then Chicago. Have a great day people

  10. Reflection says:

    There a lot of hateful comments in here that have no statistical data attached to them. A lot of people under here are very racist, and unless you do not believe in God you need to take a step back and realize you aren’t doing what he sent you on this Earth to do. You are the problem with this life. If being poor and needing financial aid because of a system that is stacked against you from birth because of your skin color means you don’t deserve to have the same access to education, then we aren’t living by the constitution you worship so much. We are not treated equal, we are not seen of the same value. Yet everyone is allowed to copy our culture, everyone is allowed to take credit for the inventions of my ancestors, and everyone is allowed to hate and take take TAKE from the people on the bottom. If there’s anyone to hate, it’s the billionaires who hoard all of the wealth from everyone below them. They complain about their salaries not being enough when most of us barely make enough to survive to the next month. THey could literally donate half of their income and still live the same lifestyle. If we gave away half our income, we would not be ALIVE.

  11. Alfred Haump says:

    So many people in this thread claim that white people are racist for even having the opinion that white kids are disadvantaged when it comes to receiving incentives for college. News flash, calling a white person outdated and racist for their opinion is every bit as racist as using a slander term against a minority. It literally shows that you have a bleeding hatred for the race. Even though people are pulling facts anti whites such as Julie v just scream the racist card and reject/discredit facts based on skin color.

    To obtain more info on this look into how panels reject white male students with exceptionally better credentials to that of a black student. The same discrimination applies to other races than just whites, Indian and Asians get the same mistreatment.
    Black privilege is live and real.

  12. Yevette says:

    Please Be Kind Because
    All Lives Matter!

  13. Charlie says:

    And it was that ‘wonderful’ legislator who succeeded his opposition, Lyndon Baines Johnson, who gleefully said, upon passing the laws necessary all the modern-day welfare reform and give-a-way mentality that exists, “I’ll have those N—— voting Democratic for the next 200 years!”

    If anyone’s statue needs to be torn down, his is a good place to start…. not some war memorial that supposedly invokes a phony pang of nausea.

    If all lives matter, what about the lost 95 percent of African Americans murdered by other African Americans? Don’t they matter? BLM ignores them.

  14. […] The socioeconomic status of the family’s students come from affects educational attainment. Most people of color are in low- or middle-income households and the students from these households are forced to choose between accruing debt to pursue a degree that does not guarantee employment or becoming a part of the job market which promises them no promotion or pay raise. “Graduates who hailed from households with incomes of at least $116,000—the top quarter—represented more than half of all the degrees awarded in 2014 among 24-year-olds. Students from households that earned less than $35,000—the lowest quarter—represented just 10 percent of all the degrees awarded” (Zinshteyn, 2016).[8]Socioeconomic status represents a major hurdle for people of color and those in lower income households from achieving a master’s degree. The government and higher education institutions can bridge this gap in education attainment but grants and scholarships are largely merit based in higher education versus needs based meaning many people of color are not able to access those opportunities. There are studies conducted that point to a bias against students of color when awarding merit based aid. Source. […]

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