Feb. 28, 2011— -- When Colby Bohannan was looking for college financial aid nine years ago, he concluded that he was at a disadvantage because of his race.
"In the landscape of the scholarship foundations in this country, there is just one demographic that does not have a single dedicated scholarship," he told ABCNews.com. And that demographic, said Bohannan, is white males.
"That's the gap we're trying to fill," he said.
Bohannan said he found a plethora of scholarship options for minorities and women when he was searching in 2002, but not one dedicated solely to white males.
So after taking a hiatus from school during which he served in the Iraq War, Bohannan launched the Former Majority Association for Equality, a nonprofit organization that takes its name from the fact that according to U.S. census numbers, non-Hispanic whites make up only 45 percent of the Texas state population.
"Trying to afford an education is not easy," said Bohannan, 28. "Just because you're white and male doesn't mean you have a bunch of money lying around to pay for books and rent."
The Association, which Bohannan started with his cousin Brandon Bohannan and William Lake, the group's treasurer, plans to offer five $500 scholarships to eligible students -- white males -- from anywhere in the country.
Unsurprisingly, not everyone agrees that white males need a dedicated scholarship.
"Our largest state-funded financial aid program is the Texas Grants program, and in 2009 we served about 63,000 students," said Dominic Chavez at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, which promotes greater access to higher education in the state.
"I am not sure I accept the premise that these programs are targeting students of color," Chavez said. "These programs are targeted to poor Texans. There is no consideration of race [or] ethnicity for the allocation of these awards."
The board's goal is to increase enrollment of every single ethnic group in higher education by 5.7 percent -- that includes whites as well as blacks, Asians and Hispanics, said Chavez, who pointed out that college enrollment rates are down among males across all ethnic groups.
Positive and Negative Feedback
Since founding his organization, Bohannan said he's heard from supporters, as well as from those who accuse him of bigotry.
"We're not racists, just guys trying to help young Americans," he said.
A spokesman for Texas State University, where Bohannan is currently studying, distanced the school from the Former Majority Association for Equality.
"He's a student here, but this is not a university affiliated group at all," said the university's Mark Hendricks. "I don't think it would be really appropriate to get involved in commenting on or otherwise endorsing his efforts."