Report proposes new definition of “merit”

Posted by Hechinger Report on January 25, 2016

Report proposes new definition of “merit” to help low-income college applicants
Foundation said the deck at the most selective colleges is stacked against poor kids

The nation’s most selective colleges and universities should give special preference in the admissions process to qualified students from low-income families, who are vastly less likely to attend those schools than wealthier Americans with similar academic ability, according to a new report.

The report, by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, proposes ways to ensure that low-income students have access to top colleges and universities, where they are now underrepresented thanks to policies it said stacks the deck against them. (The foundation is among the funders of The Hechinger Report, which produced this story.)

These include preferences for athletes, children of alumni, and applicants whose families have the greatest ability to pay, who often receive financial aid based not on need but on what the universities call merit.

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