Talking Scholarships: Minorities vs. The Majority

Talking Scholarships: Minorities vs. The Majority

GATES
The logo of the Gates Millennium Scholars Scholars Program (gmsp.org)
by Jose Ornelas, Features Editor

With the senior year having rolled around, seniors are searching every nook and cranny of thick books and online for any scholarship they can nab. Rising college prices and the fear of having a large debt to pay as soon as one graduates make scholarships the ideal solution. Often only needing at least one essay and possibly a recommendation, scholarships are plentiful and diverse in requirements and value.
A multitude of scholarships exist for minorities, ranging from scholarships for Hispanics and African-Americans to scholarships for left-handed students. Because these groups are at some kind of disadvantage in general (maybe left-handed people are at a disadvantage in finding left-handed products?), it makes sense that scholarships are available to help them pay for the expenses of college.
“It is great that it can give students resources that they need to go to college,” Rangeview counselor Holly Smith says about minority scholarships.
What about the majority? Do they get the same opportunity for scholarships as the minority? Among the largest and most competitive of scholarships is the Gates Millenium Scholarship, which pays full tuition up to a doctorate degree. A national scholarship, Gates Millenium is won by only 1,000 students out of 50,000+ applications. Interestingly enough, this “holy grail” of scholarships is only available to the following ethnicities: African American/Black, American Indian – Alaska Native, Asian Pacific Islander American, and Hispanic American, according to their website. Caucasians are not eligible to receive Gates.
Senior Dave Nuttall, says, “I think it is unfair, especially for the biggest scholarship. Now it seems like many scholarships do that [eligibility based on race] and it is harder to get them just because of your race.”
There isn’t a scholarship out there that defines being Caucasian as one of its requirements. Often, such scholarships look for other limiting factors such as being a minority race or being disabled. These kinds of minority scholarships are very common and plentiful as to provide such people with as many opportunities as possible to get financial aid. If there are so many scholarships out there that are exclusive to minorities, then why do so few exist for those of Caucasian or white descent?
Counselor Linda Morarity explains, “In the history of colleges there tends to be an imbalance in college enrollments between different ethnicities, especially in certain schools. When looking at the more expensive and highly selective schools there still tends to be a significant difference in enrollment numbers and something has to be done in order to close those gaps so that any student who is high-achieving in any place can find the school for them.”
However, not all Caucasian students have families that are well off financially, and, as a result, their opportunities to get financial aid be get extremely limited just because they are in the majority. Indirectly, the majority becomes the minority.
“Minorities are not the only ones who need scholarships,” states senior Biruk Abreha. “I think it should be based on a person’s ability to pay rather than their race.”
There are still opportunities, though. Just in the Colorado region alone, two full ride scholarships exist that don’t take into account race: The Boettcher Scholarship and the Daniels Scholarships. Both pay up to four years of education at a university of the student’s choice; Boettcher is limited to Colorado universities only, but the Daniels Fund is applicable to most colleges in the US.
There are also merit based scholarships, which only look at talents and skills the applicant possesses. These range from athletic and musical scholarships to engineering and web design scholarships. Ethnicity is not taken into account; anyone can apply for these. One just needs to be very skilled or talented in the area to be eligible for the scholarship.
Although scholarships for Caucasians can sometimes feel limited due to the massive focus on minorities, there are opportunities that exist for them. It can just be a little harder to dig through the mass of information to find them.