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Virginia has banned legacy admissions at its public colleges

After July 1, the University of Virginia and other public institutions in the state will no longer be able to give an admissions advantage to students who are connected to alums or donors.
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After July 1, the University of Virginia and other public institutions in the state will no longer be able to give an admissions advantage to students who are connected to alums or donors.

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed a new bill into law on Friday that will end the use of legacy admissions at the state's public colleges and universities.

The new law requires schools to stop giving an admissions advantage to applicants with connections to alums and donors.

"Gov. Youngkin has consistently advocated for merit-based admissions to Virginia's colleges and universities," said Christian Martinez, a spokesperson with the governor's office. "In Virginia, students can be encouraged to know their hard work and academic career will be recognized on its merit."

The new law, which passed unanimously in the Virginia House and Senate earlier this year, will take effect July 1 – after most college admissions decisions have been made for the upcoming academic year.

At least one public institution in Virginia had already done away with legacy admissions – Virginia Tech ditched the practice last year.

Virginia is not the first state to ban legacy admissions: Colorado passed a state-wide ban in 2021, and similar legislation is being floated in Massachusetts and Connecticut, among other states. A number of selective private colleges have also banned the practice, including New York University, Amherst College in Massachusetts and Wesleyan University in Connecticut.

Critics of legacy admissions say it gives an unfair advantage to prospective students who come from privileged backgrounds.

But not everyone is in a rush to abandon legacy: Just last week, Brown University in Rhode Island announced that after a review, it would keep legacy admissions in place and "further study" its impact.

Reporting contributed by: Elissa Nadworny

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