Hispanic students’ aid above average

TCU is awarding above-average financial aid packages to Hispanic students, according to university records, beating a national trend that shows Hispanics receiving the lowest average amounts of any racial or ethnic group.A study by Excelencia in Education, an organization that studies Hispanics and higher education, reports that the percentage of Hispanic students receiving financial aid to pay for college is at an all-time high. However, in 2003-2004, Hispanics received the lowest average award packages nationally.

At TCU, the average amount of aid awarded is $8,592 annually and Hispanic students receive an average of $9,885, said Mike Scott, director of financial aid.

The Excelencia in Education study reports on average both Asian-American students and African-American students are receiving higher average award packages than Hispanic students: $7,620 and $6,933 respectively compared to the $6,250 Hispanics receive in aid.

One way to solve the problem of Hispanics receiving less aid is to create outreach programs to get information on financial aid options out to the Hispanic community, according to the Excelencia in Education study.

An example of this is TCU’s Community Scholar Program. Former Chancellor Michael Ferrari’s Council on Diversity created the Community Scholar Program in 1999 as a way to increase diversity.

The program finds students of color who demonstrate academic excellence and leadership skills and awards them the funding they need to succeed at TCU, according to the program’s Web site.

Scott said TCU is working hard to increase diversity on campus.

“We’re looking at how we can do that ethically and fairly,” Scott said.

Dean of Admissions Ray Brown said this year’s freshman class is the most diverse in TCU’s history. Of the 7,154 undergraduate students enrolled at TCU, 6.4 percent are Hispanic.

Scott said this year is the first the university has been able to look at race as a factor in determining admissions and financial aid. Before this year, he said, TCU was under the restriction of the Hopwood Act, which states that universities under the jurisdiction of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals could not take race into account in admissions or other institutional decisions.

“This is something new, so now we’re looking into what do,” Scott said. “We need to figure out what’s the proper way to benefit diversity without harming other students.”

Although Scott said being able to study different groups on campus is interesting and helpful, he said it is not changing the way aid is awarded at TCU.

“When we make basic financial aid awards we don’t say more to African-Americans than to Hispanics to meet a diversity quota,” Scott said. “Need is colorblind. When you talk about federal, need-based money, all things are equal.