ISAC Programs in the Wake of SCOTUS Decision
ISAC is reaching out to financial aid administrators as a follow up to a joint letter from the higher education agencies sent to college and university leaders and financial aid directors on July 21, 2023.
The recent Supreme Court decisions in Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) vs. Harvard and SFFA vs. University of North Carolina invalidating certain race-conscious practices in admissions have understandably raised questions and concerns for many students as well as for institutions. Even though these decisions focus squarely on race-conscious college admissions programs, questions have arisen about whether they invalidate other race-conscious programs and laws, including financial aid programs. Notably, the Court's majority opinion did not directly discuss scholarships or financial aid.
The Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) delivers many financial aid and loan repayment programs, created by the Illinois General Assembly and signed into law by various governors. ISAC will continue to administer these programs as required by Illinois statute and concurrent rules. To the extent that any changes to these programs are needed in the future, ISAC, in partnership with other state agencies, will help financial aid officers navigate the changing landscape to help minimize potential interruptions to a student's studies.
The U.S. Department of Education, in consultation with the U.S. Department of Justice, is planning to release guidance in mid-August to support colleges and universities in developing admissions policies that follow the law and provide a path to creating a more inclusive higher education system. The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators suggests that financial aid administrators review any race-conscious programs on their campuses and contact their own institutions' legal and leadership teams to evaluate their approach. As noted in the joint letter linked above, while we wait for additional guidance from the federal government, we urge institutions to please employ caution in any actions to alter programs as you consider the implications of the decision. Illinois' higher education agencies are committed to working with institutions to address the challenges as we collectively assess our ecosystem in the wake of the SFFA ruling.
ISAC will continue to review related court decisions and monitor for additional guidance. If any changes occur to the administration of ISAC programs, the agency will provide updates.
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