Trump Officials Roll Back Obama-Era Guidelines on Affirmative Action

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The Trump administration doesn’t want you to see race, at least when it comes to college admissions.

On Tuesday, the Trump administration rescinded Obama-era guidelines that encouraged higher education institutions to consider race during the admissions process, according to The New York Times.

The announcement comes from the Justice and Education Departments. The old guidelines were “unnecessary, outdated, inconsistent with existing law, or otherwise improper,” according to a DOJ statement.

The announcement might not carry as much weight as it seems to. Here’s how the new guidelines could impact you.

Should race be a factor in admissions?

Whether or not race should be a factor in college admissions is one of the oldest questions in the modern history of higher education — and the answer depends on who you ask.

When President Obama’s administration released its affirmative action guidelines in 2011, the recommendations were meant to encourage colleges and universities to consider using race when selecting students for admissions. Then-Attorney General Eric Holder said that diversity dismantles stereotypes and that the guidance would help colleges provide true equality.

But last year, the Times reported that black and Hispanic students are even more underrepresented than they were 35 years ago. Enrollment among both groups may be up, but when it comes to elite schools, those students make up a smaller portion of attendees compared to other colleges.

According to the Times analysis, “Affirmative action increases the numbers of black and Hispanic students at many colleges and universities, but experts say that persistent underrepresentation often stems from equity issues that begin earlier.”

How will the new guidelines impact colleges and universities?

The current Department of Education is hoping colleges use race as little as possible when considering future students, according to Vox. Since revoking the Obama-era guidance on affirmative action, the current administration has republished guidelines from the George W. Bush era, noting that college admissions should be “race-neutral.”

Though the newest guidelines don’t change any laws, that doesn’t mean schools won’t be affected by them. Colleges that don’t follow the new guidance could be subject to an investigation by the DOJ. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has indicated his willingness to sue if colleges are found to have admissions processes that include race as a factor, according to the Times.

“In the Trump administration, we are restoring the rule of law,” Sessions said in the DOJ statement. “That’s why … we began rescinding guidance documents that were issued improperly or that were simply inconsistent with current law. Today we are rescinding 24 more and continuing to put an end to unnecessary or improper rulemaking.”

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said in a separate statement obtained by ABC News that affirmative action is the law and schools should enforce the rules laid out by the Supreme Court. “The Supreme Court has determined what affirmative action policies are constitutional, and the court’s written decisions are the best guide for navigating this complex issue,” DeVos said. “Schools should continue to offer equal opportunities for all students while abiding by the law.”

But others believe the Obama-era guidance is vital to colleges diversifying their student body. Ted Mitchell, president of the American Council on Education, released a statement following the Trump administration’s removal of the guidelines. He said the decision moves the country in the wrong direction.

“At a time when our society grows ever more diverse and the need for engagement with individuals from other backgrounds is vitally important, the federal government should not threaten colleges and universities in their efforts to construct inclusive campuses,” his statement said. “The Trump administration is sending precisely the wrong message to institutions that are committed to following four decades of Supreme Court precedent.”

Does this change how you look for a school?

Finding your dream school depends on what you want out of a college or university. If a diverse student body is a priority, inquire about those statistics with your college of choice. Schools should offer this information up without issue. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln, for example, breaks down its enrollment data by college, degree, major, race, and sex.

If you’re looking for your perfect school, make a list of the most important factors a college should have. Consider everything from location to cost and campus culture. Remember that you’re not obligated to attend a school if it accepts your college application. It’s up to you to decide whether it’s a fit.

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College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.

(1)All rates shown include the auto-pay discount.  The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. Variable rates may increase after consummation.

(2)This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a freshman borrower who selects the Deferred Repayment Option with a 10-year repayment term, has a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in one disbursement and a 8.35% fixed Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $179.18 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $21,501.54. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary.

(3)As certified by your school and less any other financial aid you might receive. Minimum $1,000.

Information advertised valid as of 11/4/2019. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.


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Discover Disclosures

  1. Students who get at least a 3.0 GPA (or equivalent) qualify for a one-time cash reward on each new Discover undergraduate and graduate student loan. Reward redemption period is limited. Please visit DiscoverStudentLoans.com/Reward for any applicable reward terms and conditions.
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  4. Lowest rates shown are for the undergraduate loan and include an interest-only repayment discount and a 0.25% interest rate reduction while enrolled in automatic payments. The interest rate ranges represent the lowest interest rate offered on the Discover Undergraduate Loan and highest interest rates offered on Discover student loans, including Undergraduate, Graduate, Health Professions, Law and MBA Loans. The fixed interest rate is set at the time of application and does not change during the life of the loan. The variable interest rate is calculated based on the 3-Month LIBOR index plus the applicable Margin percentage. The margin is based on your credit evaluation at the time of application and does not change. For variable interest rate loans, the 3-Month LIBOR is 2.250% as of October 1, 2019. Discover Student Loans will adjust the rate quarterly on each January 1, April 1, July 1 and October 1 (the “interest rate change date”), based on the 3-Month LIBOR Index, published in the Money Rates section of the Wall Street Journal 15 days prior to the interest rate change date, rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of one percent (0.125% or 0.00125). This may cause the monthly payments to increase, the number of payments to increase or both. Please visit discover.com/student-loans/interest-rates for more information about interest rates.
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Offered terms are subject to change and state law restrictions. Loans are offered through CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS #1175900).

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Undergraduate Rate Disclosure: Variable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of December 1, 2019, the one-month LIBOR rate is 1.70%. Variable interest rates range from 2.80% – 11.06% (2.80% – 10.91% APR) and will fluctuate over the term of the loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a co-signer. Fixed interest rates range from 4.72% – 12.19% (4.72% – 12.04% APR) based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a co-signer. Lowest rates shown requires application with a co-signer, are for eligible applicants, require a 5-year repayment term, borrower making scheduled payments while in school and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change. Please note: Due to federal regulations, Citizens Bank is required to provide every potential borrower with disclosure information before they apply for a private student loan. The borrower will be presented with an Application Disclosure and an Approval Disclosure within the application process before they accept the terms and conditions of the loan.

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