Dollar Dilemma for Scholarship Programs


HOPE, "Bright Futures" and "Promise" are the names of three state-based college scholarship programs intended to expand higher education opportunities. Each effort, along with those in other states, may fall victim (at least in part) to a series of fiscal challenges.

It’s a combination of lower funding sources, higher tuition costs and expanding enrollments that are threatening the programs. The "solutions" vary, each with its own set of negative consequences.

Stateline.org has the interesting story, including this excerpt.

One possibility is to reduce the amount of the scholarship. Rather than guaranteeing to cover 100 percent of ever-increasing tuition rates, those states now offer students awards at a flat rate. However, it makes college less affordable for many families and disproportionately affects those with lower incomes.

The other option is to reduce the number of students who are eligible for the scholarships. That, too, has negative side effects. Upping academic standards steers awards toward students who are likely to attend college anyway. And it steers money away from lower-income students, minorities and those who are the first in their families to attend college.

Indiana, by the way, established the Twenty-first Century Scholars Program in 1990 to help students from low- and moderate-income families. In recent years, Gov. Daniels proposed privatizing the Hoosier Lottery and using the proceeds to assist all Hoosier students with at least a portion of their public education expenses. A Department of Justice opinion on such privatization scuttled that idea.