Even though it did not cover financial aid, the Supreme Court’s recent ruling to ban affirmative action – which prevents colleges from considering race among other factors in evaluating applications for admission – may block grants and scholarships intended for minorities.
Minority students who have financial needs can still access a range of sources to fund their education, including external scholarships, grants and loans based on family income.
Less minority scholarships may reduce college enrollment
In the wake of Supreme Court affirmative action decision, a few states are already threatening to cut off scholarships for students of colour. Missouri’s Republican Attorney General sent an email to the state’s universities on June 29, the same day as the Supreme Court ruling, urging them to stop offering race-based scholarship. Both the Republican Speaker of Wisconsin’s State Assembly and the President of the University of Kentucky released statements that indicated race-based scholarship could be fading.
It’s not only because they have political leanings that more institutions may follow. If states or schools were to look at their budgets and say, “Look, we do not want to be sued,” the best thing they could do is to follow Missouri’s example.
This could lead to a decline in enrollment and make education less accessible for certain minority students.
Wil Del Pilar is the senior vice-president of The Education Trust. The organization works to remove racial, economic, and sexism barriers from American schools. If we limit the resources available to help make college more affordable for people, we should expect enrollment to drop.
According to an analysis of 2021 by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, the median family of whites in the U.S. accumulated wealth of $184,000, compared with $38,000 in wealth for the average Hispanic and $23,000 in worth for the typical Black family.
There are still other financial aid options
While affirmative action may discourage current and future students of color from attending college, Wright and Del Pilar insist that it is worth the effort.
Wright: “I still think education is a good way to improve one’s quality of life.” We know that a college education can bring millions, if not even more in extra earnings over a lifetime.
How to obtain the necessary financial aid to pay for a college degree, despite the decreasing number of minority scholarships.
How to submit the FAFSA
Free Application for Federal Student Aid is the key that unlocks financial aid including student loans and grants from federal agencies, as well as work-study opportunities, some scholarships, etc. You should submit your FAFSA every year, even if it seems unlikely that you will qualify for financial aid.
You can also apply for a need-based Pell Grant, which awards up to $7 395 per annum. The only factor that determines eligibility is income, but you may still qualify even if your estimate of how much you earn doesn’t match reality.
Start early planning
The use of time can prove to be very valuable. Wright says that you should start talking to your college adviser or guidance counselor as soon as possible in your first year of highschool about the costs and options of higher education.
Wright says that the earlier families begin to talk to their children about college and plan ahead, the more likely they are to succeed.
Apply for less-known Scholarships
Start by casting a broad net to find scholarships. It is helpful to use the Labor Department Scholarship Finder, which allows you sort through almost 9,000 scholarship, grant, and fellowship opportunities. Contact your targeted schools. Colleges and universities have a large list of scholarship opportunities available. Take a look in your local community for scholarships, as well as the more well-known ones.
Del Pilar who was a financial counselor in the past says that while everyone is trying to get a Coca-Cola Scholarship, which is a national scholarship, there may be fewer people applying for a local Boys & Girls Club Scholarship.
Del Pilar says that private external scholarships for minorities aren’t facing the same challenges in terms of legal protection as state or institutional scholarships. The NAACP, for example offers merit and need-based scholarship programs to Black and other students of color.
When it comes to college applications, think outside of the box.
Wright says, “I hope students take advantage of our historically Black colleges and other institutions that serve minorities, Hispanics, or regional colleges.” It is always cheaper to go to community colleges for the first two years, and then transfer.
Find out how your school handles scholarship funds
Del Pilar explains that it’s not just enough to win an outside scholarship. You also have to look at the “packaging policies” of your chosen school, which will explain how scholarship money may affect other forms of financial aid. This policy can make it unwise to pursue external scholarships in some situations.
A school may have a policy that says it will replace each dollar of yours with dollars they’ve given you. If your school gives you a scholarship of $5,000 and you then bring in an external $1,000 scholarship, your school could reduce the scholarship to $4,000 You’ll have $5,000 in scholarship money at the end.
Del Pilar says, “It can be discouraging for students to work so hard to earn extra money they expected to receive. Then the institution takes away that which they have given you as part of their institutional financial assistance.”
Watch out for New Financial Aid Options
Last but not least, be on the lookout for new scholarship frames. Wright says that a new way of applying financial aid could be considered. Wright says that you could say, “This scholarship is only for Black students.” Instead you would say: “This scholarship is exclusively available to students from [historically Black] 7th or 8th wards of D.C. whose families make less than $80,000 per year .'”
On July 7, the University of North Carolina announced that all students in state who come from families earning less than $80,000 a year would receive free tuition. This policy will begin with the 2024 incoming class.
Duke University in North Carolina, a private institution with a North Carolina base, announced a policy similar to this one for North Carolina and South Carolina students whose family income is less than $150,000 per year.