Shanda T. Ivory
Arlington, VA (June 19, 2019) — Despite a shared commitment to addressing systemic inequities in the US educational system, the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) expressed concerns today about US Sen. Ron Wyden’s (D-OR) College Admissions Fairness Act.
The legislation was introduced earlier this month in response to the recent scandal where parents offered bribes to a consultant to help their children gain admittance to certain colleges.
NACAC members believe it is important to avoid “backdoor” quid-pro-quo arrangements and that philanthropic giving should never be the sole criterion in admission decisions, nor should it be used to admit students who are not qualified to attend an institution. But the association notes that the legislation’s broad language establishes a regulatory stance that any consideration of philanthropic potential is suspect, when in practice its consideration is significantly more nuanced.
NACAC said the data reporting requirements included in the proposed bill would constitute a burden for institutions that is disproportionate to the frequency with which the specific problem of admitting unqualified students solely based on their familial wealth occurs. These requirements also risk implicating students and families without cause.
Institutions of higher education, both public and private, have historically been granted the right to design admission standards to best suit the vitality and academic mission of the institution. Establishing limits on this freedom may well have a cascading effect, NACAC said, as other interests attempt to limit ways that colleges are able to enroll a student body that sustains the social, educational, and financial well-being of the institution.
Truly solving the systemic inequities in postsecondary education will take a substantial commitment of resources, NACAC said, including:
- Equitable K-12 funding and resources to close the considerable equity gap in public elementary and secondary education;
- Funding to hire, train, and equip school counselors and college advisers to overcome immense gaps in access to college advising and preparation between students of differing socioeconomic means;
- A recommitment to public funding for state postsecondary institutions, as in a majority of states, public colleges and universities must rely more on tuition revenue than state appropriations; and
- Sufficient need-based grant aid, ensuring cost is not a barrier to attendance for any student.
NACAC appreciates the sentiment behind the proposed legislation, and the association welcomes the opportunity to discuss the bill and other issues related to college access and admission with Sen. Wyden and other elected officials.
The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), founded in 1937, is an organization of more than 15,000 professionals from around the world dedicated to serving students as they make choices about pursuing postsecondary education. NACAC is committed to maintaining high standards that foster ethical and social responsibility among those involved in the transition process, as outlined in the association's Code of Ethics and Professional Practices.
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