State Merit Scholarship Programs and Racial Inequity

Don Heller and Patricia Marin

With college tuition rising faster than family incomes, state policy is barring low-income and minority students from receiving adequate aid for college tuition. This collection of research finds that many state merit aid policies favor granting funds to students who are already likely to go to college without aid, while not covering access for low-income and minority students.

The research is a follow up to the 2002 report, Who Should We Help? The Negative Consequences of Merit Scholarships. This report further examines the possible consequences of merit-based aid, addressing specific programs and policies and describing the negative impact these programs may have on college access for low-income and minority students.

...Unmet need is a barrier both to students' initial enrollment in college and to their ability to persist through and earn a degree.