With the average cost of a four-year bachelor’s degree exceeding $100,000 in the U.S., college scholarships are in high demand.
So when Marcus Carter presented a $500 grant to Brendan Baird on Thursday to help him offset the cost, he couldn’t understand the controversy.
Carter, an African-American, is the vice-president of the Former Majority Association for Equality–a group that awards scholarships solely to white men.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, the number of whites enrolled in college doubles the sum of all minorities.
But Carter, 27, says critics fail to understand awarding scholarships to anyone, regardless of their race or ethnicity, is beneficial to everyone.
He told WFAA.com: ‘I can’t really say I understand where they’re coming from, being only 27-years-old, I don’t feel racially oppressed.’
‘Just because you don’t benefit directly doesn’t mean it isn’t beneficial,’ he added.
The U.S. Army veteran said he joined the organisation while serving in Iraq with FMAFE founder Colby Bohannan.
Bohannan explained he was motivated to start the college fund after feeling ostracised by other racially-exclusive grants offered to non-whites.
He said: ‘It just got really frustrating when every other scholarship you happen to find online you need not apply to based on your ethnicity or gender.’
Bohannan told the website the nine-member board of directors includes a Hispanic man and two women. All nine members work on a volunteer basis.
He said FMAFE, which was granted 501(c)3 status this month, has received $18,000 in donations.
Baird’s is one of five grants the FMAFE is handing out across the U.S., after narrowing down the winners from 180 applicants.
Other scholarships will be awarded to college students in Long Beach, California; Columbus, Ohio and Miami Beach, Florida over the next week.
Baird said he was thankful for the financial help.
‘If somebody else wants to go give it to the Martians of Outer Space, that’s okay,’ he told WFAA.
‘I don’t have any qualms with that. If these guys have decided they want to do it here and see that as an important cause, I’m more than willing to say “Yeah, I’ll take it” because they speak the biggest colour, which is green,’ he added.
Carter echoed his sentiment, and is satisfied in his role offering financial aide to anyone in need.
‘I go to sleep knowing that I am doing something good for society. I’m being a productive member of society in my own heart,’ he said.
Offering scholarships to specific racial and ethnic groups, including whites, is nothing new.
There are categories for African-Americans, asians, hispanics and for numerous other special interests on websites such as scholarships.com and fastweb.com.