Legacy and College Admissions

Legacy in College Admission, Ivy League and Legacy Admission, Legacy in University Admission

Is legacy college admissions a violation of tax law? You decide (photo credit: Gavin Huang).

Many debate whether or not legacy status should or shouldn’t help a college applicant’s chances for admission. And yet whether or not it should help, legacy status does indeed help applicants to highly competitive colleges by giving them a distinct advantage in admissions. But is this practice – is legacy admission – against the law? Well, maybe. You might be surprised by the type of law we think legacy admission is in violation of: tax law.

That’s right. Tax law. The practice of legacy admission gives advantages to the family of alumni – typically the sons and daughters of alumni. College admissions counselors afford particular benefit to the sons and daughters of alumni who donated money over the years. Yes, the applicant whose parents donated the new biology building gets special attention. It’s a way of saying thank you. It’s a way of encouraging future donations from that family. It’s a way of creating loyalty to an institution. It’s a way of fostering love for a college.

But these donors donate their money and these are tax-deductable donations. The donors get a tax write-off. They’re not supposed to be receiving anything in return for their charitable donations to non-profits and yet if it helps their children’s chances for admission to their alma mater, that’s exactly what they’re receiving.¬†Should non-profit universities be removed from the list of eligible recipients of charitable donations? Should legacy admissions end? Do you think it will anytime soon? Let us know your thoughts by posting below.

Check out our post on legacy applicants and our newsletter on legacy and college admissions.

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1 Comment

  • Richard Dorfman says:

    Disingenuous is perhaps the best way to describe the admissions process at a number of “elite” US colleges and universities…a practice I’ve come to see for what it truly is: a rigged system favoring legacy, privileged kids who have been “groomed, counseled and coached at great expense”, wealth and influence….along with a smattering of under represented minorities (URMs) to “round out” the class. For those deserving, humble students from lesser means with impeccable academic credentials who offer no “hooks” and don’t fit the stereotypical profile of an “elite college Noah’s Arc” (and therefore do not gain admittance), the admissions process is an unsettling and disheartening reminder that life is anything but fair!

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