Congressional bill aims to end legacy college admissions

The “Fair College Admissions for Students Act” was introduced on Wednesday.

A bill introduced in Congress on Wednesday by Democratic lawmakers aims to end legacy admissions at many US colleges and universities.

The Fair College Admissions for Students Act would amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to prohibit colleges that participate in federal student aid programs from granting admissions preference to applicants with inheritance or donor, a common practice in elite institutions.

The bill was introduced by Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) in an effort to address what they called an unfair and inequitable admissions process that takes advantage of disproportionately to wealthy, white, connected students.

“All students deserve a fair chance at admission to institutions of higher learning, but students whose parents did not attend or donate to a university are often overlooked in the admissions process due to the historically classist and racist legacy and donor admissions practices in many schools across the country,” Bowman said in a statement.

Merkley said the bill would aim to level the playing field for minority and first-generation students in particular.

“Children of donors and alumni can be excellent and well-qualified students, but the last people who need extra help in the complicated and competitive college admissions process are those starting out with the benefits of family education and money,” he said in a statement. .

The bill would allow the education secretary to lift the legacy preference ban on institutions such as historically black colleges and universities, tribal colleges and minority-serving institutions, which already admit high levels of underrepresented students.

Inherited preferences are common among selective colleges; according to progressive think tank The Century Foundation, three-quarters of the nation’s top 100 universities in U.S. News & World Report employ them, and nearly all of the top 100 liberal arts colleges do.

Inheritance preference is worth an additional 160 points for children of alumni, researchers at Princeton University have found.

Proponents of inherited preferences argue that inheritances can help strengthen an institution’s ability to provide financial aid to low-income students.

Several institutions, including Johns Hopkins University and Amherst College, have ended their practice of legacy admissions in recent years.

Last year, Colorado became the first state to enact legislation banning legacy admissions to public colleges and universities. In the wake of the “Varsity Blues” scandal, California did not ban legacy admissions, but required institutions whose students receive state financial aid to disclose the number of applicants accepted under the practice.

The Fair College Admissions for Students Act is introduced as the Supreme Court is set to hear affirmative action challenges, which could also have implications for the admissions policies of many colleges and universities.

ABC News

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