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So Now What? College Admissions

Last week the viewership of Fox 5 New York had their lives enriched by two, not one appearances by Yours Truly regarding the Supreme Court rulings on 1. affirmative action in college admissions and 2. President Biden's loan forgiveness program.

(Lockwood would not comment on a rumored talk show deal being in the works.)

Hardy har har.  Enough comedy bits. Here's the short version of the advice I tried to impart last week on the air.   

Re:  affirmative action and diversity in college

  According to researcher and author Richard Kahlenberg, 71% of Black, Latino and Native American students at Harvard … come from college-educated homes with incomes above the national median.  Assuming this is basically true, are these applicants the ones we should boost? Or does this argument miss a point that I don't see. (I'm genuinely asking, reply to this email if you'd like.)

  Diversity is not dead.  Colleges still have the ability to consider each applicant's "lived experience", including whether he or she was discriminated against because of race, ethnicity, etc.  Or how those factors "inform" the applicant's outlook on life, experiences.  

  Maybe, just maybe we'll see new supplemental essays from colleges asking about those topics. Tune in after August 1, when the Common Application is released.

  The reporter asked me whether I saw any benefits to the ruling.  Talk about a loaded question.  My answer, which didn't make it into the final piece, was that I thought the discussion about race and meritocracy prompted by this case is important and healthy to discuss. 

  Another benefit:  that the ruling acknowledged that Asian Americans were being discriminated against (along with other classes) and this cannot be allowed any longer.  I told him that this was a big win for Asian Americans.  (Also not in the final cut.)

  Will colleges get creative and use proxies for race?  My hunch is yes, but then again, who wants to encourage more lawsuits?  Plus, it's a challenge to come up with a good proxy. Recruiting low income, disadvantaged students from poor school districts seems like an obvious, fair practice.  But most of these students are white (I didn't realize that either).

  Maybe we'll see practices like in the state of Texas, which gives automatic admission to its flagship college to anyone in the top 10% of their high school class.  I read that the Wisconsin legislature was considering something similar.  Sounds fair...but studies show that diversity didn't increase in Texas in a meaningful way after the plan was implemented.

Re:  student loan forgiveness

  •  I told the other reporter that I was very pessimistic about the amount of debt that students and parents have taken on. Loan forgiveness would have just kicked the can down the road in a small way. 
  •  Actually, it's not "forgiveness".  That would be the correct term if the lenders wrote off some of the debt.  The Biden plan is "transference," i.e. having other taxpayers, including many who never went to college or had college debt themselves, pick up the tab for those who did.
  •  I'm on both sides of this issue, personally.  I paid off more than 100K of debt for myself (college and law school). That was painful, there were times when I couldn't make payments, so my credit suffered. But I did it. 
  •  On the other hand, we've personally witnessed hundreds of families load up student and parent loans, which will be really, really hard to dig out from under.   Frequently, I question their choices based on what I see objectively -- "paying up" for a college with a questionable at best return on investment -- and of course my own bias having lived through my own trials and tribulations. 
  •  I try to be as non-judgmental as possible because everyone's situation is different.  But it's easy to confuse wants and needs.  Attending a 85K per year college that accepts 50% of students instead of a 30K per year state university is not a need.  It's an emotion-based decision, no matter how you slice it.  But you can't let your emotions dictate your decisions. 
  •  Payments resume in October.  Thousands of borrowers who haven't made payments in the last three years will receive a slap in the face when they get their bills.  Advice:  
  •  Take action NOW to log into the student loan site and see how much you owe, and the payments.  Many borrowers have no idea.
  •  Familiarize yourself with the various income-based repayment plans, loan consolidation options and other forms of payment relief.  We're gearing up to offer consulting on this, see

We also help students get into top colleges and parents pay "wholesale" tuition for said colleges.  Here's where to review some client case studies and book a time to chat if interested in our help:

Carpe college!

- Andy Lockwood


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