Thursday, May 10, 2007
A decade ago South Carolina was one of only two states that did not provide need-based aid for students who attended publicly operated colleges and universities. However, since 2002 more than $1 billion has been allocated from state lottery proceeds to state-operated universities for scholarships for low-income students.
But the formula for distributing state lottery funds does not give a fair shake to students at the historically black South Carolina State University in Orangeburg. In 2006 the average scholarship award from lottery funds for low-income students at South Carolina State University was $878. At the Citadel, the state-operated military academy in Charleston where only 7.6 percent of the student body is black, the average lottery award for low-income students was $1,868. At Clemson University, where blacks are less than 7 percent of all students, the average lottery award for low-income students was $1,775.
The reason for the discrepancy is that lottery proceeds are doled out according to an institution’s total enrollment. But the scholarships are given only to low-income students. Therefore, if there is a small percentage of low-income students at a particular institution, each low-income student gets a larger award. At South Carolina State University, where a large percentage of the almost all black student body comes from low-income families, the average award is reduced because the lottery fund must be divided by a greater number of students.
Reprinted from The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, April 19, 2007