This guide gives undergraduate and professional school enrollment officials practical, actionable information and guidance on the design and implementation of financial aid and scholarship policies that advance diversity goals through consideration of race, ethnicity, and sex. This guide is intended to help enrollment officials chart an effective and sustainable course for overall enrollment planning and is organized in two sections: Section I identifies key framing issues essential in the review, evaluation, and evolution of impactful financial aid and scholarship policy design and practices, with a focus on kinds and sources of aid. Section II provides an overview of strategies and steps that merit consideration among enrollment and institutional leaders at public and private higher education institutions as they seek to achieve diversity goals in legally sustainable ways.

April, 2019
Jamie Lewis Keith, Partner, EducationCounsel LLC, with an insert by Alexandra Schimmer, Associate Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, The Ohio State University

This article provides guidance to institutions of higher education on “how to do diversity right”-navigating effectively and with fidelity to 40 years of legal precedent through today’s challenging legal and policy landscape.

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) provides states with several opportunities to advance social and emotional learning and development, positive learning conditions, and whole child supports in schools and districts.  This brief outlines these opportunities and highlights examples of how states are leveraging them in their ESSA state plans.

On January 16, 2019, the College Board’s Access and Diversity Collaborative hosted a webinar titled “Federal Non-Discrimination Law: Implications for Higher Education Financial Aid and Scholarship Policies and Programs.” This webinar, conducted by Art Coleman and Jamie Lewis Keith of EducationCounsel, focuses on  issues of federal non-discrimination law, including Title VI, relevant to scholarships and financial aid.  Incorporating federal court admission decisions associated with student diversity, as well as USED non-discrimination policies and OCR case resolutions involving claims of discrimination in aid, the webinar provides insight into and ideas about strategies and action steps that can help achieve institutional goals associated with diversity, while also mitigating legal risk.  A full recording of the webinar is here.


May 24, 2018

Secretary Riley reflects on successful strategies to transform schools in rural communities. Read more.


Earlier this month, the College Board, NASFAA, and EducationCounsel released a new publication, Federal Nondiscrimination Law Regarding Diversity: Implications for Higher Education Financial Aid and Scholarship Policies and Programs.  This resource provides guidance to enrollment professionals around financial aid strategies and scholarship policies involving the consideration of race, ethnicity and sex that advance the institution’s diversity goals and are legally sustainable.

In the 1940s, Russia developed a prototype of a new military advancement called the Antonov A-40. It was an ambitious, seemingly innovative leap forward that would provide battlefield support and overwhelming, agile deployment. It was also, quite literally, a flying tank. For reasons that seem obvious in retrospect—weight and inefficient transportation chief among them—it was not functional in practice and thankfully never produced at wide scale. However, the lessons learned regarding its design ultimately provided beneficial advances to future military developments.

Federal lawmakers would be wise to heed the lesson that all ideas—particularly those with billions of dollars at stake—should not be rushed into wide-scale production. Many of them seem eager to open the $130 billion per year of taxpayer funding to new ways of providing higher education instruction without any assurance that these programs provide quality outcomes to their students. It’s still too early to tell if these innovative models will turn out to be the Antonov A-40 or the (significantly more effective) Chinook helicopter of higher education, but it’s not hard to see the potential damage—for both taxpayers and students—of going into “mass production” at this early stage, without assuring that the quality, design, and outcomes of such innovative programs are well understood.

Because Congress and the Trump Administration have signaled enthusiasm to opening Federal student aid to shorter term and other nontraditional providers, it is critical to develop quality assurance models that can meet the needs of these new learning delivery methods. It isn’t clear that accreditors—the traditional arbiters of quality more focused on inputs such as course catalogs than on outcomes like employment, earnings, and aptitude—are the right fit for newer learning models that focus more on building a skill set for adults looking to gain an additional certification for their next job. The bad news is that currently, there is no consensus and little evidence for what such a quality assurance regime would look like. The good news is that a little-known Federal experiment known as EQUIP—Educational Quality through Innovative Partnerships—is in the early stages of making Federal funding available to test whether such quality assurance providers could serve as a backstop for ensuring students are getting a superior education in exchange for their taxpayer-funded Federal grants and loans. The time is ripe to enable such innovation, to evaluate whether these quality assurance models can ensure that both taxpayer and student investments would be sufficiently protected.


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