Over the weekend an article on CNN caught my eye. It told the story of Justin Combs, the teenage son of Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, who as a result of success in academics and his talents on the high school football team, recently received a $54,000 merit-based scholarship to UCLA, where he will continue to play football.
The article posed the question of whether it was right for the Combs family to accept the scholarship in light of the fact that Forbes magazine recently named Sean Combs the wealthiest artist in hip hop. Should the children of the wealthy benefit from tax-payer dollars in the form of a scholarship to a school of which they are capable of paying full tuition, or should they refuse the money in hopes that it would be awarded to a child that otherwise could not afford to attend college?
My knee jerk reaction was that the Combs’ and families like them should absolutely refuse the scholarship. They should say “thanks, but no thanks” and allow the money to fall to someone in need, but after a little thought, I began to second-guess myself.
Wealthy father aside, I assume Justin Combs is like any other teenager who strives to excel at his schoolwork. He likely feels a great deal of pride in seeing his hard work on the field and in the classroom pay off. Is it really fair to ask him to give that up because his father is successful? Furthermore, as a society that rolls their eyes in disgust at spoiled teens with everything handed to them like those that appear on shows like MTV’s My Super Sweet Sixteen, who are we to then deny a teenager who, despite the fact that he was born into opulence, maintains an admirable work ethic?
All that being said, I’m still not sure what the right or wrong answer is here. What do you think? Is it in poor taste for wealthy families to accept scholarship money that could be awarded to those in financial need?