The White Man’s Guide to Getting a Minority Scholarship
Dispelling the Myths – Giving You the Facts
Do you think it’s possible to get a minority scholarship if you’re a white male? You've probably heard rumors and myths about the availability of this type of financial aid and never got the straight facts.
Right now, if you are a white male between the ages of 17 and 25, you DO have options.
Learn about the history of minority scholarships and how current events have improved opportunities for white males across the United States.
Currently the idea of “white guy scholarships” has a small, but vocal following that, yes, falls outside the circle of right wing loudmouths. It is among us. There is a bubbling wellspring of blog brouhaha on the topic, pro and con, some legitimate, some whiney. Make no mistake; this is an incendiary topic, to say the least. Words like “outrage” and “bigotry” are already bandied about like flies. And it’s early in the season.
I know, white guys can get anything they want, right?
But can they? The real question becomes: are white males a growing minority on college and university campuses across America? And if so, are they or should they be privy to “minority” scholarships? Here’s a clue: you’ll likely be surprised to learn where the best scholarships for white males may be found.
Maybe the best way to begin an exploration of the idea is, with minds open, to consider the current state of minority funding, and the admissions practices in play across America’s college campuses. There is no right or wrong answer, and the deeper we dig.…
Minority Scholarships Today: Who Gets the Money?
If you think about it, white guys are right now the least likely to get most of the college scholarships—many are earmarked for women or minorities. The other outstanding scholarship criterion is “financial need.” So white males from really poor backgrounds have the most advantage, and considering the terms of quite a number of scholarships—economics do constitute a “minority” category.
The Era of Over-Compensation
“Underrepresented” and “minority” – both descriptive adjectives for the majority of scholarships, do not include white males. A number of years ago, in sync with the national outcry over a disparity between white males in jobs related to engineering, math and the sciences, there was an immediate reaction on the part of government and corporate America to remedy the gap. Scholarships that targeted females and minorities reproduced like rabbits. Now, according to a wide array of statistics the number of white males in engineering is declining, while the numbers that are female and minority continue to climb. Goal achieved, right?
Revamped: Minority Scholarships Must Include White and Male
Suddenly it must have occurred to some that if you dug down into the nitty-gritty of Civil Rights and analyzed the ills of Affirmative Action, you could make a good legal argument contesting the Constitutional validity of most scholarships today, particularly those offered through federally-funded institutions. Over the last five or six years conservative watchdog groups like the Center for Equal Opportunity (CEO) have called universities like the University of Michigan, Southern Illinois University, and SUNY on the carpet for racial discrimination in their admissions practices. At question are the scholarships restricted to minorities. In response to the threat of legal action, all have revamped their “minority” and female-focused scholarships to include white students and males. And it’s not just the CEO speaking out; charges emanate from an increasingly disgruntled applicant pool frustrated with access to college programs.
A New York Times article in early 2006 underscored the current tide of minority scholarship controversy. The allegations have drawn deep concern from the Department of Education and put the public university system at large on legal alert, many with changes swiftly afoot.
The Center for Equal Opportunity continues to verbally spar with the University of Michigan over allegations of “racial discrimination.” The CEO’s mission is to make sure higher education becomes a more equal proving ground, inclusive to all. This includes the increasingly excluded white male, who may be the next most “underrepresented.”
New Crop of Propositions
You’ve likely Heard of California’s Proposition 209, which in 1996 made it illegal for public colleges and universities in California to consider admissions on the basis of race, creed, sex or color. Michigan’s recent Proposition 2, a.k.a. Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, is cut from similar fabric. It was passed in early 2006 and makes the same educational admissions processes illegal as well.
Obviously the critics of such legal propositions argue that the educational process will only roll backwards, with scholastic and professional opportunities once again falling into the hands of a predominantly white male crowd, but for the moment, we’re hardly there. According to recent statistics 57% of the college crowd is female with a growing gender gap on American campuses. The problem is laced with a smorgasbord of potential reasons, say experts, only part of which is attached to scholarship money.
Political Fallout—the Satire of White Male Scholarships
All this hoopla over college scholarship dough draws a line in the sand between Republican and Democrat, liberal and conservative, college officials and student body. The Fall 2006 “Caucasian Achievement and Recognition Scholarship,” concocted by the Boston University College Republicans was intended to titillate the campus student body and open up communication on the issue of race in college admissions. Instead, it hit mainstream media like shotgun fire, where it fomented the controversy already in play. Eight students applied for the “satirical” $250 award that also required them to construct an essay on the meaning of being Caucasian.
White Male Looking for a Single Good-Looking Scholarship
Today’s white male college student may be suffering from the sins of the fathers. What were closely related outgrowths of equal rights, civil rights and affirmative action are now wreaking havoc on the ability for a white male to qualify for a scholarship of any kind unless he’s inordinately short, or can demonstrate some other idiosyncrasy that may be criterion for an oddball scholarship. Maybe white guys need to suffer a bit longer, eh? Maybe they need to have a history of oppression behind them first in order to feel privileged to gain some perks. Maybe they need to earn a lower station in life first.
Caucasian Scholarships at an HBCU-A Best Bet
Maybe one of the best places to shop for a “minority” scholarship aimed at white males is through one of the public Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The system of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) was established to provide African Americans with a viable place to secure a rightful college education, at a time when they were afforded the same legal rights to a higher education, but in many instances could find none. Now many HBCUs are scrambling to diversify—they have to, under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which clearly states that any institution that receives federal aid may not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed or sex. This means that public HBCUs must recruit students from all backgrounds.
If you read up on the minority and Affirmative Action issues, you might assume from various stats and editorial commentaries that white enrollment is on the increase at the HBCUs, but according to The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, this so-called trend is nothing more than hot air. HBCUs remain predominantly black. And even in cases where there are now scholarship incentives for whites, “white students usually opt to go elsewhere.”
A few state’s public HBCU systems have been involved in bitter and lengthy legal battles over the issue of segregation. Various decisions have forced quite a few predominantly black institutions to begin aggressively marketing “minority” scholarships to white students:
- Tennessee State University is so down in its minority—white—population that the State is now funding “scholarships for Caucasian Tennessee residents.” These scholarships are rooted to the recent outcome of a lengthy court case known as the Geier case that has called over the last two decades for desegregation of Tennessee’s “dual educational” system of which TSU was a part. Long range plans for the desegregation have included assuring a balanced student body. During the mid-1980s the agreement put in motion a new system of other-race recruitment: black recruiters for white colleges and white recruiters for black. To those ends the Geier called for stepped up scholarships and financial aid to boost the process. In late 2006, the Geier case was finally dismissed on the grounds that the State had in fact effectively undone its dual system, thanks to the urgings of the Geier case over the years. The scholarships for whites cover room and board for eligible candidates.
- Diversity Scholarships for both undergraduate and graduate white students are a special program of Alabama State University and Alabama A&M University. The goal is to boost enrollment of those underrepresented in the school: whites and Native Americans, specifically at ASU and “Caucasians” at Alabama A&M. In fact as the result of a discrimination case, a federal court judge in 1995 commanded both ASU and Alabama A&M University to vigorously diversify.1 The court case raised scrutiny over the fact that both schools had almost exclusive black student bodies and had been remiss in recruiting “other-race” students, especially whites. Since then large chunks of money have been earmarked each year to attract white students. Initially GPA requirements were set at 2.0, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, so low as to offend black students required to comply with a GPA minimum of 2.7. Since then, in response to threats of legal repercussions, the universities have raised GPA reqs for whites. Scholarships may cover full or partial tuition.
- Jackson State University in Mississippi has a student body composition of over 6,000 African Americans and about 200 Caucasians.2 The university’s Diversity Scholarships are restricted to Caucasian applicants. Mississippi, like Alabama, has had to scramble to rollout diversity scholarships at its public HBCUs, following a landmark segregation case. Under terms of the settlement the state’s public HBCUs are required to bring levels of “non-black” students to 10 percent of their student body at which time they will receive critical funding to bring their programs up to speed with the other public universities in the state, the initial crux of the legal fight. In response JSU, along with Alcorn State and Mississippi Valley have all ramped up recruitment of their biggest minorities—whites. It’s not that they want to, but they now have a monetary carrot dangled before them.
- Diversity Scholarships through Alcorn State University in Mississippi are given to “non-black” applicants. Full and partial scholarships are awarded and candidates must have at least a 3.0 GPA to qualify.
- Mississippi Valley State University offers undergraduate and graduate Diversity Scholarships. Grad scholarships may cover a full tuition while the undergrad version awards $700. Applicants for both must be “non-black.”
Special Interest Private Colleges Not Offering Minority Scholarships for White Males
Good luck locating a minority scholarship exclusively for whites, much less white males, at any of the private HBCUs, including the prestigious Howard University, Morehouse College, and Tuskegee University (formerly Tuskegee Institute). This would likely be the one thing they would avoid at all costs.
Financially active and well-endowed alumni make sure their alma maters are able to remain true to their belief systems and core missions. You will find small, private HBCUs like Voorhees College in South Carolina that make every effort to promote themselves as non-discriminatory.
No, there are not any scholarships offered for “Caucasians” or “white males,” but Voorhees’ list of scholarships makes not one mention of race or gender. The school has a total enrollment of about 700, about 6 percent of which is white.
But without discriminating you also will not find scholarships for white males at any of the prestigious private women’s colleges, either. While some are now admitting males to graduate programs, they do not offer specific funding for any males--White, Hispanic, Black, Asian or purple. Legions of alumnae contribute annually to make sure they never have to. Like Blacks and other ethnic minorities, women as well have suffered under the weight of a traditionally white, male-centric university system.
You might think that even those traditionally women’s colleges with a recent history of coeducation might offer a minority scholarship for males. Hood College in Maryland turned to a coeducational platform in 2003, but still makes its “minority” scholarships exclusively available to applicants “traditionally underserved” in higher education.
Forget About Hispanic-Serving and Tribal Colleges
Tribal colleges not only offer a college, career-focused education to Native Americans, but they unabashedly consider everyone regardless of race, color, creed or sex. It’s just that your typical American college student has access to a wealth of other college options.
Most tribal colleges are rural, even remote, and can’t provide anything more than what a typical community or technical college may provide. White males won’t find minority scholarships to Tribal Colleges, but neither will anyone else due to a lack of funding. And unlike the public HBCUs, no one is offering scads of federal funding to ramp up scholarships for whites and/or males.
As for colleges that serve Hispanics, they are just that: Hispanic-serving. Sadly, this minority population doesn’t even have its own college system.
Scholarships Won’t Be Anymore Plentiful in the Future
Perhaps it’s associated with majorities, money, statistics and the who’s-getting-what of scholarships, but don’t expect White Male Scholarships to multiply like rabbits. There are too many objections, too many historical complexities and theologies of blame to give way aggressively on the issue.
So even though clearly something’s up, white guys still have the burden of proving themselves a minority, a claim that remains a topic to be rolled around a bit more, poked at by pundits, accounted for by accountants and otherwise analyzed until its day has come. In the meantime, if you are one of the “white guys” you might consider going for a former minority-driven scholarship at one of the larger public universities especially where there’s been a legal shake-up in Affirmative Action. Or grab up a fleeting “Caucasian” scholarship from one of the public Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Somewhere down the line we can hope college admissions, like everything else, will no longer have eyes for color or gender.
Whitaker, William A. White Male Applicant: An Affirmative Action Expose. Apropos Press, 1996.