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Kristen Soares Statement Regarding Newly Proposed Legislation That Would Harm Low-Income Students

The Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities (AICCU) is greatly disappointed in the introduction of a proposed bill in the Legislature today that would have significant unintended consequences, and ultimately hurt low-income students and their access to higher education.

On behalf of 84 colleges and universities, and the 358,000 students attending the independent, nonprofit higher education sector in California, AICCU disapproves of any legislation that would severely limit access to the Cal Grant program for deserving students to attend an institution that best meets their academic needs.

AICCU will oppose any legislation that would jeopardize our ability to review applicants holistically. This model of review, that goes beyond grades and test scores, allows our member institutions to diversify its student bodies by considering additional factors.

These factors may include the high school the student attended, and the type of resources available or not to students, and whether the student would be the first in their family to attend college, among others. Indeed, anything that puts at risk an institution’s ability to serve the low-income population is contrary to the foundation and purpose of the Cal Grant program. It was enacted to provide access for low-income students, and our ability to conduct holistic admissions and consider additional factors allows us to create an applicant pool that is diverse in many aspects.

The same concept applies to legacy admissions. These potential students have a unique connection to the institution and that connection is sometimes considered as one of many factors in the holistic admissions review. AICCU institutions are committed to admissions and recruiting policies that are grounded in a commitment to integrity and ethical conduct. Colleges and universities should retain the right to consider a student’s connections to the institution as one component of their assessment, and it would be inappropriate and unfair for the state to jeopardize student Cal Grant eligibility for doing so.

We understand these bills were drafted in response to the recent college admission scandal. These were illegal actions committed by individuals at institutions – not by the institutions themselves – and do not reflect the mission, vision, and values of our member institutions. We recognize that these actions not only undermine the public’s appropriate expectation for a fair admissions process, but also take slots away from deserving students. That’s why it’s critically important we do not cause greater harm to students with legislation that would further limit access to higher education.

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The Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities (AICCU) is comprised of 84 independent, nonprofit colleges and universities, which make up the Independent California Colleges and Universities (ICCU) sector. The ICCU sector plays a pivotal role in the development of the state’s model higher education offerings and in making California a symbol of innovation across the globe. Within California, ICCU institutions award over 20 percent of all undergraduate degrees and over 50 percent of graduate degrees, making them the largest preparers of California’s advanced workforce.


Aram Nadjarian – (323) 533-4523

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