The conversation about equal access to education during the college admissions process — and the resulting bill for that education — were reignited after the New York Times reported Tuesday about a potential investigation by the Department of Justice on how affirmative action may discriminate against certain students.
A document obtained by the New York Times and circulated among the civil rights division of the US Justice Department indicates that the Trump administration is looking to shift resources, and start “investigations and possible litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions.”
While the New York Times report didn’t specify who the Justice Department might deem as at risk of facing discrimination based on affirmative action admissions policies, a statementfrom Department of Justice Director of Public Affairs Sarah Isgur Flores later indicated the case involved a “coalition of 64 Asian American associations.” The complaint, which was filed in May 2015, alleges racial discrimination against Asian Americans during the college admissions process.
According to Flores, the Justice Department is seeking volunteers to assist in the investigation.
In an academic setting, affirmative action programs have allowed students from historically disadvantaged groups — particularly women and people of color — with comparable or higher educational records as their peers extra consideration during the application process.
Despite initially vague reports, both critics and supporters of affirmative action spent yesterday debating the aim of its existence, as well as the perpetuation of the dubious myth that students who benefit from it, particularly those who are black, can go to college for little to no money.
A 2015 Gallup poll found that only 61 percent of all Americans believed higher education — or education beyond high school — “is available to anyone in America who needs it.” Not only was that number down from 67 percent in 2013, but white respondents were the least likely to believe this. They were also the least likely to think education beyond high school is affordable.
However, a 2011 analysis on data from the US Department of Education’s National Postsecondary Student Aid Study found that all racial minority students — who account for 38 percent of the total undergraduate population — receive 40 percent of need-based grant and scholarship funding and 24 percent of merit-based scholarships. Meanwhile, white students, who make up 62 percent of the total undergraduate population, receive 59 percent of need-based financial aid and 76 percent of merit-based funding.
The full article first appeared at Vox on August 3, 2017.