In Mississippi last fall, a big debate emerged over student aid.
The state sought to overhaul how it gives out money for college, creating a new program that would base awards on a combination of need and merit, as measured by a composite ACT score. The Mississippi One Grant, as it’s known, would replace the three grant programs Mississippi has now. One of those, known as HELP, pays for four years of tuition for low-income students.
, our reporter with Mississippi Today, has been covering
the debate and what the policy would mean for state residents. The bottom line?
Black and low-income students on average would get much less aid under the new approach. And white students would get slightly more.
Molly’s reporting prompted us to take a new look at student-aid policies across the South. Mississippi is just the latest state to weigh a shift toward measures of merit.
A generation ago, state after state created new merit scholarships and began distributing the bulk of their aid based on academic metrics, like grades and test scores, instead of family income.
Thirty years later, Naomi Harris found
, large gaps remain in who those programs benefit, especially by race. The rhetoric from their advocates has been that they expand opportunity equally, she writes, but the reality is that they have not.