Federal Nondiscrimination Law Regarding Diversity

Federal Nondiscrimination Law Regarding Diversity

June 26, 2019
Art Coleman and Jamie Lewis-Keith

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.

Financial aid and scholarship policies and practices are subject to the same federal nondiscrimination laws as admissions programs, but unlike admissions, they have not generated significant attention or been the subject of Supreme Court decisions.  Notably, the current legal landscape now involves an increased number of federal litigation and agency enforcement claims that reflect an expanded scope (beyond admissions), including allegations of race and sex discrimination in financial aid, as well as co-curricular and similar programs.

Advancing the diversity-associated mission of institutions of higher education requires attending to the imperatives of good policy and legal sustainability.  This guide seeks to elevate awareness of how to do that, with a focus on financial aid and scholarship policy design and execution; program evaluation; and communications.  A recording of a January 2019 College Board and EducationCounsel webinar January 2019 webinar on this topic, reflecting many of the points in the guide, can be found here.

This guide is the product of the College Board’s Access and Diversity Collaborative (ADC). In its fifteenth year, with over a dozen organizational and 60 institutional sponsors, the ADC provides policy guidance, thought leadership, and advocacy support to promote sound enrollment policies and practices that advance institutional diversity interests.

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