By Frederick H. Lowe
African-American men who received college scholarships tied to Tennessee’s state lottery that requires them to maintain a certain grade point average are more likely to lose their awards, according to a study by Charles E. Menifield, Ph.D., professor and associate dean of Academic Programs at the Harry S. Truman School of Public Affairs at the University of Missouri.
The study, titled “Lottery Funded Scholarships in Tennessee: Increased Access but Weak Retention for Minority Students,” studied a data set of 33,228 students who received a Tennessee Hope Scholarship during the 2007 academic year. The scholarship is managed by Tennessee Lottery Scholarship Corp. The study was published in 2012. Not all of the students were African American and not all were men.
Students must enroll in public or private colleges and universities in Tennessee and they must have an overall weighted minimum of a 3.0 GPA and at least an ACT score of 21 or a 980 SAT score to receive a scholarship. The scholarship boosted enrollment at the state’s schools except Tennessee State University, a historically black university, reported a 5.2 percent drop in enrollment.
Forty-two states, including Tennessee, have used lotteries as a direct means to finance primary, secondary and higher education, Menifield wrote. Freshman and sophomores who are enrolled fulltime can receive up to $1750 per academic year and juniors and seniors who are enrolled fulltime can receive up to $2,250 for the academic year.
“While the program has been quite successful in raising funds for education, not all the objectives for higher education have been realized,” he said.
Menifield noted that recipients are required to maintain a specific grade point average during their four years of college, which varies depending on the undergraduate’s academic year.
His study concluded that African Americans are most likely to lose their scholarship, and black men are more likely to lose their scholarships than black women until both sexes reach their senior year when the gap between black men and women dramatically decreases.
The study found that 53.6 percent of black students lost their scholarships in their freshman year and 51.9 percent lost their scholarships in their sophomore year.
Menifield urged colleges and universities to establish support groups, specialized learning communities and innovative faculty/student relationships that accentuate the learning experience.