Equal Protection Project v. Western Kentucky University (Two Scholarships Restricting Eligibility Based on Race Challenged)

Case Particulars


Office for Civil Rights, Department of Education

Date Filed

September 16, 2023

Docket No.


Case Status

OCR Complaint Filed; OCR Commenced Investigation; Scholarships challenged by EPP no longer offered on WKU website

Case Overview

Western Kentucky University offered two scholarships available only to non-white undergraduate applicants: the WKU Athletics Minority Fellowship (“AMF”), for minority students interested collegiate athletics careers, and the WKU Distinguished Minority Fellowship (“DMF”), for minority students looking to pursue and obtain graduate degrees.


The AMF scholarship provided “at least four undergraduate scholarships in the 2023-24 school year amounting to $2,000 scholarship per academic year.” Eligible applicants were required to “identify as an underrepresented ethnic minority,” which, according to the application, included only “Black/African-American,” “Black/African Descent,” “Asian, Native Hawaiian [or] Pacific Islander,” “Hispanic/Latino” and “American Indian/Alaskan Native.”


The DMF scholarship offered “[u]p to nine hours of resident face-to-face tuition costs for the completion of a primary graduate degree,” including eligibility for a stipend of “no less than $15,000 per academic year in association with a graduate assistantship.” Eligible recipients were required to check the appropriate box on the application noting their “minority status” — which is further delineated as “African American, American Indian/Alaskan Native, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, two or more races or Hispanic/Latino.”


Equal Protection Project is the Complainant in this matter, which is under evaluation by the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights.


On April 25, 2024, the Equal Protection Project received a letter from OCR indicating that OCR had opened an official investigation into the AMF Scholarship. That investigation is pending. A recent check indicates that the scholarships challenged by EPP are no longer offered on WKU’s website.

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