Diddy and his son Justin Combs

Diddy and his son Justin CombsDiddy’s teenage son, Justin Combs, received flack for a full athletic scholarship to play football at UCLA, set off by a CNN segment this week, which asks: Should P. Diddy’s son return $54,000 college scholarship?

Some feel he should, especially since his father Sean “Diddy” Combs is worth a reported $475 million, and has earned $45 million in 2012 so far.

In an interview with CNN, education contributor Dr. Steve Perry defended Combs’ merit-based scholarship, saying he earned it fair and square.

At the Upstate New York prep school, where Justin recently graduated, he maintained a 3.75 GPA while playing cornerback for the football team and excelling in the sport as one of the top in the country.

“He’s done what he needs to do to be successful, and in ‘Ameritocracy’ we have to accept that no matter who your father is, whether he be rich, poor or absent, that you can in fact be successful on your own merit,” Perry said.

Perry went on to point out that Combs’ scholarship is, specifically, for student athletes, so it’s not isn’t exactly a free ticket. The 18-year-old is required to train 40 hours per week, as well as attend classes full-time.

UCLA spokesman Ricardo Vazquez also defended their decision in giving Combs a scholarship, via an interview with the L.A. Times, saying that university has a “robust financial aid program,” and the money used for merit-based athletic scholarships was “entirely funded by Athletic Department ticket sales, corporate partnerships, media contracts and private donations” and “do not rely on state funds.”

Also, he says the money used for Combs’ scholarship wouldn’t affect need-based scholarships awarded to other students.

“There is a big separation between financial aid based on need and how that’s funded and how athletic scholarships are funded and awarded to students,” Vazquez said.

Combs’ scholarship is one of about 285 the university awards to student athletes each year, Vazquez said, and will be used to pay tuition and fees along with room and board.

“Unlike need-based scholarships, athletic scholarships are awarded to students strictly on the basis of their athletic and academic ability, and not on a student’s financial need,” Vazquez said in a statement.

The average tuition rate is around $50,000 per year, and there are planned 16% tuition fee hikes on the horizon. UCLA became a focal point in the Occupy Wall Street protests, with students rallying against the fee raises.

In April, the school was forced to clawback $27 million in financial aid accidentally deposited into students’ accounts.