- Written by Mike Martin
COLUMBIA, 9/22/12 (Beat Byte) -- Among college students, black males are the most likely to lose state-funded academic scholarships, says a professor at Mizzou's Truman School of Public Affairs.
The findings have broad implications for campus diversity programs, which often emphasize recruitment without supporting retention.
More than 50 percent of African-American males lost state-funded scholarships over four-years, claims Charles Menifield, who studied retention rates of more than 33,000 Hope Scholarship recipients from Tennessee. Recipients must maintain certain academic requirements to retain the scholarship.
"Race turns out to be one of the best predictors of scholarship retention rates," Menifield said. He also blames availability of other financial aid that doesn't impose academic milestones such as Pell grants.
"It is possible that many students don't worry about losing their Hope Scholarships because they know they can always fall back on Pell grants," he explained.
Scholarships are primarily recruitment tools, and higher learning institutions focused on diversity recruitment may not be putting as much emphasis on retention. Students with academic support systems are much more likely to maintain their academic scholarships, Menifield said, citing the Greek system and its mandatory study halls.
"If state and higher education institutions want to maintain higher levels of retention and a diverse student body, they should do much more than simply provide scholarship funding," Menifield said.
One idea: take a "holistic" approach to student aid, he advises. Work groups with high-performing students and professors; community learning environments; and additional funding to ensure students can focus on academics rather than student employment can help create a culture of retention, not only of minority students, but everyone.
"Ultimately, the responsibility lies with the student," Menifield said. "But there are many things universities can do to promote higher retention rates."