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Sep. 28, 2015

MSU part of coalition to improve college admission process

Michigan State University is part of a diverse coalition of public and private colleges and universities that have come together with the goal of improving the college admission application process for all students.

The coalition is developing a free platform of online tools to streamline the experience of applying to college. The initial iteration of the planning tools will be available to high school students beginning in January 2016.

In creating this platform, the colleges and universities hope to recast the college-admission process from something that is transactional and limited in time into a more engaged, ongoing and educationally reaffirming experience.

They also hope to motivate a stronger college-going mindset among students of all backgrounds, especially those from low-income families or underrepresented groups who have historically had less access to leading colleges and universities.

“Being a part of this coalition is an indication that MSU is doing many things the right way, especially in terms of graduation rates and providing financial aid that helps make the college experience affordable for so many students,” said James Cotter, MSU admissions director.

Cotter noted that just under 25 percent of all MSU students are eligible for Pell grants, which are awarded based on financial need.

The 80 members of the Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success have made a commitment to make college affordable and accessible for students from diverse backgrounds, and for students to be successful in completing their education.

The coalition, which continues to add members, will be working over the next few months to develop tools and processes that are intended to address many of the barriers that prevent students from attending college or successfully earning a degree.

Later this year, the coalition will share details about new college planning and application tools that will streamline the admission and financial aid processes and allow students to begin planning for college much earlier in their high school years.

The online tools will include a digital portfolio, a collaboration platform and an application portal. The goal is to reshape the process of applying to college as the culmination of students’ development over the course of their high school careers, as well as reduce the unfamiliarity of the application and level the playing field for all students.

The application will add another option to all the ways that students currently apply for college. Many coalition schools will accept applications through the portal in the summer of 2016.

MSU's participation does not require a commitment to use the coalition application once development is complete. Should MSU decide to use the coalition application, the earliest it could be used would be for the 2018 student recruitment cycle.

Research has found that students from disadvantaged backgrounds often do not participate effectively in the college-application process, struggle with applying for financial aid, and often do not get awarded all the financial aid they qualify for. As a result, even the most highly qualified students either do not attend college, attend a college that does not engage their full potential, or do not complete their degrees. Attending a high school with a college-going culture greatly increases students’ college success.

Members of the coalition include public universities that have affordable tuition along with need-based financial aid for in-state residents, and private colleges and universities that provide sufficient financial aid to meet the full, demonstrated financial need of every domestic student they admit. Coalition schools graduate at least 70 percent of their students within six years, with many having much higher graduation rates.

More information can be found at





By: Tom Oswald

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