Merit, not race, rewarded at black colleges

According to, 93 percent of the 13,067 students on FAMU’s campus are black.

While Caucasians, Hispanics, Asians and American Indians make up the last 7 percent, they are not entitled to minority scholarships or special programs at the University.

Some schools may provide minorities with more help than other universities and colleges.

Educational institutions are required by law to give every student a chance to apply for financial aid, but are not required to give out scholarships based primarily on race.

Through the Florence/London Program Minority Scholarship at Florida State University, only students of color are offered the opportunity to study abroad in Italy and England.

If an institute does not offer minority scholarships then it may offers sources for students to apply for financial help.

According to Yale University’s Multicultural Outreach Program, minority scholarships are displayed on the official Web site by outside donors and businesses.

At the same time, financial aid is used to promote diversity on all campuses.

Sometimes students assume that they will receive more help from universities, especially if they are of a different race than most of the other students.

Tiffany McInerney is a sophomore respiratory therapy student of European descent from Philadelphia. She said she thought she could receive a scholarship to attend FAMU because she is considered a minority.

Officials in the scholarship office told her that minority scholarships were not offered.

“It is the University’s policy not to offer scholarships based solely on race,” said Carrie Gavin, director of the Equal Opportunity Program. “All students are eligible for scholarship opportunities if they meet the minimum requirements, which should not be based on discriminatory practices.”

These minimum requirements include a student’s high school GPA, and standardized test scores.

Job location and family ties brought McInerney to FAMU. She works for the airlines and her boyfriend and his family are here in Tallahassee.

Bryan Stanton, a freshman music education student from Atlanta, received a band scholarship.

Stanton, who is white, said, “I got band scholarships from other HBCUs, but I was going to come here regardless.”

David Chin, a freshmen economics student of West Indian descent from Titusville, received a four-year scholarship from ROTC.

What seems to be a surprise for many is the amount of Europeans, West Indians and other ethnic groups that attend black schools.

McInerney, Stanton and Chin could all admit that they did not expect to see so many students that were not black.

“For a HBCU it has a good balance of different cultures,” Chin said.

“I believe the racial makeup of FAMU’s student body is an asset to its programs and the individual learning of our students,” Gavin said.

Although scholarships may not be offered only according to ethnicity, there are still many ways to acquire financial help through outside scholarships that target minorities.

Contact Christy Bennett at