Race Bias #4 - "Bidding War for Black Students"

The statistics show that there are more European-Americans below the poverty line than African-Americans.

On page 46 of "The Bell Curve" Herrnstein and Murray reprint a graphic showing that the number persons having IQs at or above 140 who do not attend college still exceeds the number with IQs above 140 who do attend. While colleges are doing a better job at identifying high-ability students than they did in 1930, there is still a long way to go.

Only four tenths of one percent of Americans have IQs above 140, (approximately 12,000 out of the 3 million babies born live each year). What "The Bell Curve" makes clear is that more than half of these super-bright children are "missed" entirely by the system and never get to college.

Now three guesses as to the racial group in which these "missed" children are concentrated!

As you will see from the article below, enormous sums are spent by colleges on the children of wealthy blacks. None is being spent on identifying the brilliant children of ordinary working European-American parents who cannot afford college tuition.

America has developed a rather strange concept of justice!



Oct. 7, 1992 Wall Street Journal p B1 Education: Black Students Become Targets Of Bidding War

by Gary Putka Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

A financial-aid bidding war for top black students has broken out among colleges, yielding generous scholarships and some knotty questions of equity in an era of scarce academic resources. Eager to diversify the racial profile of their student bodies, colleges are offering unprecedented sums to academically talented blacks, admissions officers say. Many of the awards are not based on need but on merit, causing some colleges to question whether the trend is diverting aid dollars from poorer students. * * *

Instead of partial scholarships, awards covering all costs - more than $20,000 a year at some private schools - are becoming more common. Although academic merit scholarships are available to students of all races at many colleges, Harvard and other schools say such awards are being made with increasing frequency as a recruitment tactic in a heated competition to tap a small pool of top-achieving blacks.

And while the big aid awards may be lifting black enrollment at some schools, overall black participation in higher education remains stubbornly frozen at levels below the 12% proportion of blacks in the general population. Nationally, blacks accounted for 9.2% of freshmen in the fall of 1991, down from a peak of 9.8% in 1984.

Harvard, disturbed by a sharp drop in black enrollment in this year's freshman class, says that many black students it accepted were wooed away by other schools offering aid packages that far exceeded financial need.

Of 172 blacks accepted for admission at Harvard this fall, only 94 are attending-- the lowest number in the 24 years since affirmative action policies began taking hold at the school. Harvard has 1,606 first-year students. Last year, the school enrolled 132 black freshmen.

Harvard surveyed the black students who rejected it, and "what we found is quite provocative," says William Fitzsimmons, dean of admissions. "There is an awful lot of money being spent out there."

Mr. Fitzsimmons says that one student who went elsewhere reported receiving an $85,000, four-year scholarship that covered tuition, fees, room and board - and an additional $10,000 in stipends to cover "travel or any project of her choice" during summer vacations. Many of the students reported getting "full ride" scholarships covering all costs, including one whose family's income was $140,000 a year according to Mr. Fitzsimmons. Harvard which makes awards only on the basis of need, declined to name students or the schools they chose.

Mr. Fitzsimmons says students with family incomes as high as $164,000 reported receiving aid elsewhere, while a "reasonable number" of those in the survey had incomes above $80,000, a level at which little need-based aid is generally available. He says he doesn't have complete income data because some of the students didn't apply for financial aid at Harvard.

* * *

Many colleges, of course, also lure students with athletic scholarships that aren't based on need. But abuses in athlete recruitment have led to award limits and other regulation by the National Collegiate Athletic Association. No such regulation governs academic-merit awards.

Competition for the best black students as become especially heated, schools say, because more colleges are pursuing racial heterogeneity as a goal. "Colleges nationally want diversity, and to get diversity, you have to make your aid packages very attractive for incoming freshmen," says Emmett Griffin, admissions director at Howard University, an historically black college in Washington, D.C.

Another factor is the relatively small pool of black students with high college entrance test scores. Colleges typically buy the same recruitment lists from test sponsors, focusing in on groups according to ethnicity, scores and geography. The list of last year's black high school seniors scoring between 600 and the maximum of 800 on the verbal part of the Scholastic Aptitude Test contained only 1,493 names; in mathematics the number was 3,404. Schools rated in the top rung in college guides generally prefer students with scores higher than 600.

Richard Shaw, Yale University's dean of admissions, says many students in the top tier receive multiple offers of admission, with colleges increasingly willing to negotiate aid packages to match others. The danger, says Mr. Shaw, is that students will be "bought off" and will make their decision based strictly on money, rather than the school that might make the best educational fit.

But not everyone is upset. Indeed, the U.S Department of Justice, in an antitrust case against the Ivy League and others, argued that students should be free to negotiate the best deal they can get from a school, irrespective of need. The case resulted in the demise of a practice called overlap, under which aid awards were fixed by the schools so that multiple admission students were denied any price advantages. Now that Overlap has collapsed, black students and others "are finally getting what they deserve," says John Katzman, who owns Princeton Review Inc., a test-coaching company.

* * *

Dr. Rudenstine, Harvard's president, says he may take steps to reduce the growth of merit-only awards if the school continues to lose black students "or any other category of students" for financial reasons in the spring and next September. Despite the legal sensitivity of the issue, he says he may request that colleges exchange information on financial aid after students are enrolled to see whether awards are actually draining money from needy students. If that is the case, he says it may be possible to argue that the schools should curb excessive awards.

But if that fails, Dr. Rudenstine says Harvard may have to consider providing merit scholarships of its own. Any such move would have widespread implications for other schools' aid policies, since Harvard's $5 billion endowment would make it, a formidable competitor in merit awards. Dr. Rudenstine stressed that Harvard would do this only as a last resort.

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