Arlington, VA (Nov. 9, 2020) – The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), in partnership with the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA), today announced a wide-ranging, eight-month initiative to reimagine college admission and financial aid systems to better promote racial equity in US higher education.
The goal of the project is to disassemble and reassemble the college and financial aid processes to focus exclusively on eliminating long-standing, systemic barriers to racial and ethnic justice and inclusion. Since college access opportunity is not fairly or equally distributed, the aim will be to envision an admission and financial aid system founded exclusively on equality of opportunity. As part of the grant, the groups will convene a panel of thought leaders to consider entry challenges to postsecondary education for traditional-aged and adult students of color and examine ways in which an admission and financial aid system would be designed if racial and ethnic equity were the primary objective.
Studies show that disparities in higher education access for traditional and adult students of color are at a critical point, exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the racial justice crisis that crested in 2020, and researchers believe that the inequities will worsen without decisive action. Under this initiative, experts working in college admission, counseling, and financial aid, as well as policy experts in the field of higher education access, will convene to examine long-standing admission and aid policies to refocus the processes on equity and fairness.
“Each year, overly complex admission and financial aid processes discourage otherwise qualified students from pursuing higher education. The very systems created to encourage students to enroll in college disproportionally disadvantage marginalized populations,” said NACAC CEO Angel B. Pérez. “This project seeks to reconstruct admission and financial aid processes by putting students at the center and building it from the ground up. Student-centeredness and institutional success do not have to be mutually exclusive. We believe we can achieve equity for racial and ethnic minority students while helping institutions of higher education meet their goals."
This work, funded by a generous grant from Lumina Foundation, will formally begin in November 2020 and will culminate in July 2021 with the release of a comprehensive set of recommendations for colleges to follow in developing admission and financial aid processes that enhance racial and ethnic justice and inclusion. In addition to a step-by-step manual that colleges can follow, the project will identify systemic barriers within higher education and provide state and federal policy recommendations. Documents highlighting those findings will be shared with college leaders and lawmakers.
“NASFAA is committed to removing financial barriers for all students who want to pursue a postsecondary education, but particularly for those who experience racial inequities, disparities, and prejudices,” said NASFAA President and CEO Justin Draeger. “This last year brought back into stark reality the social inequities that continue to plague our nation. Colleges across the country are committed to combatting these inequities head-on, and we’re pleased to be partners in an effort to do just that.”
“We were delighted when these two membership organizations wanted to leverage this moment to reimagine admissions and financial aid in service of students of color and adult learners. Their approach embodies Lumina’s commitment to consider issues of equity first as we consider redesigning postsecondary education systems to advance racial justice and equity,” said Lumina Foundation Strategy Director Terri Taylor.
The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), founded in 1937, is an organization of nearly 14,000 professionals from around the world dedicated to serving students as they make choices about pursuing postsecondary education. For more information, visit www.nacacnet.org.
The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) is a nonprofit membership organization that represents more than 28,000 financial aid professionals at nearly 3,000 colleges, universities, and career schools across the country. NASFAA member institutions serve nine out of every 10 undergraduates in the United States. Based in Washington, D.C., NASFAA is the only national association with a primary focus on student aid legislation, regulatory analysis, and training for financial aid administrators. For more information, visit www.nasfaa.org.
Lumina Foundation is an independent, private foundation in Indianapolis that is committed to making opportunities for learning beyond high school available to all. The foundation envisions a system that is easy to navigate, delivers fair results, and meets the nation’s need for talent through a broad range of credentials. Lumina’s goal is to prepare people for informed citizenship and for success in a global economy. For information, visit www.luminafoundation.org.
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