Verification of education

By: Bethany Schweitzer, JD, PhD

The Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success consists of public and private universities and as of October has 84 members.  To participate, members must meet certain guidelines.  Public university members must offer affordable tuition to residents of their state.  Private university members must have a commitment to meet full, demonstrated financial need. All members must have at least a 70% six-year graduation rate.

The Coalition announced that a new university application will be available to the class of 2017.  This application allows each college to have a personalized application portal within the Coalition application.  The application also has a virtual locker for students to keep essays, portfolios etc. throughout their high school career.

So what exactly is the goal of the Coalition? Their stated goals include addressing the question of affordability and making sure students are college ready by starting the dialogue about college earlier. Students can start their virtual locker at the beginning of their freshman year in high school.

What does this consultant think?  I think there are some merits to the Coalition application with tools to allow each student to be more than their GPA and test scores.    I do also think there are some pitfalls.  I think that the idea that this application will help with access and affordability for first generation, low-income students is a bit of a pipe dream.  Access to a website/tool does not give low-income first generation students the social capital needed to apply to college.  Many don’t have the tools and support necessary to fill out their regular applications let alone to start during their freshman year with a virtual locker.

Some unintended consequences of the coalition application have already started.  Case Western Reserve University is considering changing their admissions policy from needs blind to needs aware to meet the requirement of the Coalition to meet full demonstrated financial need. This could possibly be a negative for low-income students.

So what will this application ultimately accomplish?  Will it do the exact opposite they have set out to accomplish?  Will it create an even larger barrier between low-income first generation students and their peers?  What are your thoughts?  I would love to hear from you.  Please comment below