© 2024 WBGO
Discover Jazz...Anywhere, Anytime, on Any Device.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Scholarships based on race may fall victim to affirmative action decision, experts say


Litigation may result, they say, if colleges start to think such scholarships may violate High Court ruling

Some fallout from the Supreme Court decision striking down affirmative action in college admissions. Scholarships that consider a student’s race or ethnicity could end up the subject of court battles, said Kalyn Belsha, a reporter for Chalkbeat, a nonprofit news outlet that covers education.

“Some college systems have interpreted the Supreme Court’s decision to mean that if they are awarding the scholarship themselves and it’s coming through kind of their institutional aid, that they can’t take into consideration the student’s race when they’re awarding that money,” she said.

Belsha said so far there hasn’t been much litigation in this area, but added that she has heard from experts that there is likely to be more.

“I’ve seen pushback going back to the 90s from groups that opposed affirmative action that they also opposed scholarships that had racial preferences or requirements,” said Belsha.

By mid-August the federal government is expected to release guidance on which admissions practices and student programs are still lawful.

Belsha said even scholarships of $500 or $1000 can be the difference between a student going to college or not.

“Sometimes these smaller scholarships that are given out specifically to support students of color, they’re smaller but they’re really important because they help bridge these gaps that can actually keep kids from going to college,” she said. “There’s been a lot of research done around how these smaller gaps can really derail kids.”

Belsha said she talked to a charter school in Plainfield, New Jersey, part of the College Achieve Public Schools network, which told her that scholarships often cover tuition but families still need help paying for housing or fees for things like on-campus health care.

Janice Kirkel is a lifelong award-winning journalist who has done everything from network newscasts to national and local sports reports to business newscasts to specialized reporting and editing in technical areas of business and finance such as bankruptcy, capital structure changes and reporting on the business of the investment business.