Promise scholarships have been regarded as key to economic growth in many states and municipalities. The idea of providing funding for college-bound students within a designated area as an incentive for remaining in that same area post-college seems harmless enough.

However, evidence taken from reported outcomes of Promise programs such as  Georgia Hope show that these merit-based scholarships have contributed to racial and socioeconomic gaps between Black and White students in terms of college access. Are Promise scholarships fulfilling their intended purpose if they benefit only the most privileged populations? This Black former Promise scholar says no.

Promise programs are known to reinforce inequality between Black and White students as a result of the eligibility requirements. Georgia Hope, for example, was created in the early 1990s to provide scholarships for high-achieving students in the state, and has since disproportionately advantaged middle- and upper-income White students as a result of its selective nature and merit-based criteria. Georgia Hope and many other Promise programs were initially concentrated in areas where economic development and “brain-drain” were major concerns….

Read more at Diverse Issues in Higher Education.