In the wake of last week’s landmark Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action, which banned colleges from considering race as a specific factor in admissions, Republican officials in some states have sought to eliminate other higher education programs benefiting students of color.
After the decision was announced Thursday, Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey instructed colleges and universities in the state to “immediately cease their practice of using race-based standards to make decisions about things like admission, scholarships, programs and employment.”
Hours later, the University of Missouri, which has 70,000 students across four campuses, announced that it would stop issuing race-based financial aid programs, citing Bailey’s order.
And in Wisconsin, state Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, a Republican, indicated that race-focused grants and scholarships would be on the chopping block this fall.
We are reviewing the decision and will introduce legislation to correct the discriminatory laws on the books and pass repeals in the fall. https://t.co/dVpNxqnF2H
— Robin Vos (@repvos) June 29, 2023
To help make sense of what the Supreme Court’s affirmative action ruling could mean for race-focused scholarships and financial aid, Yahoo News asked Karen McCarthy, vice president of public policy and federal relations at the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA), 3 Questions. (This interview has been edited for length and clarity.)
1. Does the Supreme Court’s decision mention scholarships and financial aid for minority students?
Karen McCarthy: The Supreme Court decision was exclusively focused on admissions policies, not on financial aid.
2. What sort of guidance have you been giving to schools who have sought help from NASFAA?
This isn’t an issue that affects every college because not all colleges have their own institutional aid to award to begin with. And some don’t take race into consideration in any way, shape or form. Those that think that it may end up impacting them are paying attention and are closely following the conversation as it develops. We have told them to consult with their school’s attorneys, look out for any forthcoming guidance that might come from the Department of Education and follow any mandates that might come from your state attorney general. Schools are for the most part in wait and see mode.
3. What is your reaction to the Missouri attorney general directing colleges in his state to ban race-based scholarships?
The Supreme Court took months to decide with regards to admissions, and I feel like considerations in the area of financial aid should also be as deliberative and thoughtful. So we would have liked to see not quite as reactive a response because there are many ways that institutions might consider race, and we feel like this was a pretty reactive decision that might not be considering all the nuances.