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Colorado Governor Signs Bill Banning College Legacy Admissions


Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed a bill on Tuesday that effectively removes the weight of legacy preference from university admissions decisions. 

Democrats for Education Reform Colorado Policy Director Prateek Dutta, who proposed the bill to lawmakers, stated that Colorado is the first state to authorize such a law. 

A closer look at HB21-1173 shows that it “prohibits a governing board of a state-supported higher education institution from considering legacy preferences and familial relationships to alumni of the institution in the admissions process.”

“Just because your parent or grandparent went to one of our colleges in Colorado, that doesn’t mean that you automatically get in. Because that could take the spot of somebody who is more worthy of that spot,” Polis said.

College Legacy

Polis asserted that legacy preferences in college admissions can work against state residents who are either first-generation, undocumented, or racially diverse. 

The bill presented data that revealed only 42 percent of Latino students and 47 percent of low-income students enroll in public colleges and universities after high school compared to 63 percent for white students and 67 percent for middle and high-income students. 

“This bill will help move us in a direction where our higher education institutions are moving towards being meritocracies — meaning that you have to earn admission because of who you are and what you can do and what your potential is,” Polis said.

“It was significantly unlikely that I would actually pursue a college education. The obstacles are already there for people like me. (Legacy admissions) give more of a leg up for people who are already privileged,” said Sen. Brittany Pettersen, who sponsored another bill lifting SAT and ACT requirements in college admissions which was signed alongside HB21-1173.

The bill is set to go into effect 90 days after the end of the legislative session, likely before June 12.

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