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Constitutional Requirements for Affirmative Action in Higher Education Admissions and Financial Aid.

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Race-conscious affirmative action programs in higher education are subject to strict scrutiny, which is the highest standard of review used by the courts to evaluate a policy's constitutionality. The courts employ a two-part test, examining whether the policy serves a compelling governmental interest (the underlying goal of the policy must be especially important and must be supported by sufficient evidence) and whether the policy is narrowly tailored to satisfy that interest (the policy is necessary to achieve the compelling interest and there are no race-neutral or less burdensome alternatives that could achieve the same interest). Institutions of higher education have advanced two types of compelling interests to justify their race-conscious admissions and financial aid policies: promoting educational diversity and remedying the present effects of past discrimination. The narrow tailoring requirement tests the fit between a compelling governmental interest and the policy adopted to satisfy that interest. The courts evaluate whether a race-conscious policy is necessary to achieve the compelling interest and examine policies that are race-neutral or less burdensome on non-minority students. The paper examines the current state of the law, evidence from the university, and questions in the law. (SM)

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Publication:ERIC: Reports
Date:Sep 27, 2001
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