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Amherst Eliminates Legacy Admissions Preferences

October 20, 2021

Amherst College announced this morning that it is eliminating the preference it has granted in admissions to legacy applicants.

Currently, 11 percent of Amherst students are legacies.

“Now is the time to end this historic program that inadvertently limits educational opportunity by granting a preference to those whose parents are graduates of the college,” said Biddy Martin, president of Amherst. “We want to create as much opportunity for as many academically talented young people as possible, regardless of financial background or legacy status. There should be no doubt that a world-class education is within reach for students from all income groups.”

Amherst also announced that it would add to its financial aid program. Under the new policy, students from 80 percent of U.S. households would typically pay no tuition, and half would pay nothing for tuition, housing or meals.

Johns Hopkins University ended legacy admissions in 2019, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and California Institute of Technology do not use legacy admissions. However, most competitive private colleges do.

In May, Governor Jared Polis of Colorado, a Democrat, signed legislation to bar legacy preferences in admissions by public colleges and universities in the state. And this fall, a new group of young alumni formed, vowing not to give to their alma maters if they continue legacy admissions.

Inside Higher Ed will have a full story on this news tomorrow.

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