Virginia Bans Public Universities From Using Legacy Admissions

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The University of Virginia (pictured) and the College of William and Mary will be impacted by the decision to end legacy preferences in the state of Virginia.

Public colleges and universities across the state of Virginia will no longer use legacy admissions, or give preference to students in the admissions process with family alumni or donor connections, becoming the second state to adopt such a ban. 

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed House Bill 48 on Friday, which will take effect July 1, following admissions decisions this fall. 

It will impact institutions such as the University of Virginia and the College of William and Mary, both highly ranked institutions by U.S. News and World Report. 

Virginia Tech announced the elimination of its legacy policy across its institution last year, following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to end affirmative action, or remove the consideration of race and ethnicity in the admissions process across higher education.

The state joins Colorado with a legacy ban, which was adopted in 2021. Other states considering bans include Massachusetts, New York, and Maryland. In addition, a bipartisan bill proposed before congress, known as the MERIT Act, would amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 and ultimately require institutions to end the practice.

Nearly 800 institutions provided legacy preference in 2020, according to Education Reform Now, a nonprofit advocacy group. Debate has ignited since the affirmative action ban last year, with university leaders, politicians, and education experts against the practice saying it perpetuates privilege, and calling for more equitable admissions practices.