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The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

UA discontinuing the National Recognition Scholarship for incoming students

CW Archive

The University of Alabama has discontinued the National Recognition Scholars program for incoming students as of Oct. 19, 2023.  

The scholarship was based on a status offered by the College Board to students with a GPA of a 3.3 or higher and who scored in the top 10% of test takers on the PSAT, offered exclusively to students who identify as Black, Hispanic, Latino, Indigenous or Native, or who attended high school in a rural area or small town.  

The scholarship was formerly granted to all students who met the requirements, and it covered four years of tuition, one year of University housing, and an annual stipend.  

This was the only scholarship the University offered specifically for Latino and Indigenous students. 

In its place, the UA Competitive Achievement Scholarship has been established. Applicants are considered based on their GPA, academic honors and extracurricular experiences. Recipients will receive the value of their tuition for four years, first-year housing and $1,000 in supplemental funds per year. The award provides the same benefits that the National Recognition Scholarship did. 

The University’s National Merit Finalist scholarship package, which is also based on the College Board’s application process and students’ PSAT scores but does not take race or background into account, is still in place. 

A statement on the University website says that the transition away from the National Recognition Scholarship “enables The University of Alabama to have a more sustainable scholarship program for talented first-year students.” 

“This decision was informed by a recent review of all scholarships to ensure The University of Alabama can continue offering robust financial support to as many students as possible,” the website states. 

Julia Dominguez, a junior majoring in political science, currently serves as the president of the Hispanic-Latino Association. She said the University’s decision to stop offering the National Recognition Scholarship will limit the enrollment of students of color. 

“There are already barriers to getting Hispanic and Latino students into higher education,” Dominguez said. “And then you have to consider the costs, and so many of those scholarships are so beneficial because its covering all of these vital things that, if you’re first generation, you don’t know to expect.” 

Eyram Gbeddy, a junior studying political science, was a recipient of the National Recognition Scholarship. Though the University will honor his scholarship until his graduation, Gbeddy wonders how this will affect students of color going forward. 

“It was soul crushing to me,” Gbeddy said. “Not because it affects me, but because I know it’s affecting students who look like me that are thinking of applying to UA. The story of my application here, it’s unequivocally tied to the … scholarship.” 

Dominguez said the University’s choice appeared to her “very deliberate.” 

“It shows that it’s not necessarily about the institution maybe not having money, but what they’re trying to shape the institution to be, and that is continuing a legacy that The University of Alabama has of discrimination and denying access and quality education to their students of color,” Dominguez said. 

The discontinuation of this scholarship comes four years after the University’s Path Forward Diversity Report from 2019, which identified a goal of “increasing the number of, retaining and graduating historically underrepresented students.” 

The report also outlines a goal to increase scholarships for minority students to increase campus diversity. 

Bryan Fair, a professor of law at the University, said that the University should be held accountable for going back on its word. 

“If diversity is important to the University, it ought to defend what it’s doing,” Fair said. “In the strategic plan for the University, one of the pillars was diversity. They ought to stand up to any political pressure or explain why they’re now taking this approach.” 

Gbeddy said that this decision will potentially hurt the enrollment rates of students of color in coming years. Trends over the years show that Black, Asian, Hispanic and Latino students have generally been enrolled at higher rates since 2016. 

“There’s absolutely zero doubt in my mind that somewhere out there, there are smart African American students who UA’s not going to appeal to without these active measures to bring in more students,” Gbeddy said.  

Valentina Mora, a sophomore majoring in French and communicative disorders, shared her experiences in trying to get funding for college as an immigrant student. 

“I cannot apply for a lot of external scholarships,” Mora said. “I cannot apply for FAFSA, I cannot apply for state or federal grants, I cannot apply for further loans, even with banks. The only scholarships that I am able to receive to use for my education have to go through the institution, which does not have them.” 

Gbeddy said that the cutting of the scholarships is likely tied to last year’s affirmative action ruling, which prohibits all colleges from considering race in admitting students. This began a trend of universities ending their scholarships aimed at students of color, such as the University of Missouri. 

“It’s not about race,” Gbeddy said. “It’s about investing in communities. There was a rural scholars program alongside these other scholarships, and that got axed too.” 

Fair has written extensively about affirmative action over the years. To him, the University has a responsibility to fight for diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives because of the school’s history. 

“If I were the University president, I would be fighting for diversity and inclusion and honoring a principle of equity,” Fair said. “And this University has a special obligation to do more than perhaps other universities in the country.” 

Fair said that The University of Alabama has an opportunity to make amends for past wrongdoings toward students of color. 

“It’s disappointing that a university with The University of Alabama’s history would pretend as if it doesn’t have a history of past discrimination,” Fair said. “And that it can’t find ways, creative ways, to continue to support the educational opportunities of historically underrepresented populations of students.” 

Gbeddy said that universities will continue to make cuts to DEI initiatives as a result of recent affirmative action repeals.  

“DEI is under attack in 21st century higher education,” Gbeddy said. “If you want to look at a nightmare scenario, look at Florida. … Professors at universities have to rename their courses so as to not include trigger words like ‘critical race theory.’ It’s a perversion of how education is meant to operate.” 

Hailey Rodriguez, a junior majoring in psychology and Spanish, said that the University has a responsibility to ensure students of color feel welcome. 

“We want Alabama to step up,” Rodriguez said. “I know we can, but there just needs to be a push. … They say this is where legends are made, but how can you make legends if you’re limiting people?” 

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