Changes for NACAC’s Student Recruitment Rules

College counselors meeting in a lecture room.

Higher education is a common topic in the news headlines, especially with the 2020 presidential race underway. However, higher education jumped back into the spotlight recently when NACAC made an announcement about new student recruitment rule changes.

Here’s a rundown of what you need to know, and how these changes affect the future of college admissions for students.

What is NACAC?

NACAC, or the National Association for College Admission Counseling, is an organization dedicated to teaching students about postsecondary education options. There are over 15,000 professionals working as members. Ethics is a huge cornerstone of the NACAC mission, which is why it’s such a big deal they’ve altered their code of ethics.

What Happened At the Conference?

In September of 2019, the National Association for College Admission Counseling conference met. At the annual meeting, NACAC decided to make some changes to their Code of Ethics and Professional Practice (CEPP) as well as bylaws.

The Department of Justice’s investigation of NACAC two years ago largely inspired these changes. The DOJ looked at NACAC to see if their rules violated antitrust laws. The DOJ argued that the provisions in NACAC’s code of ethics limited college choices for students.

What Did NACAC Change?

There were quite a few changes to the CEPP, as certain provisions were removed. These include:

  • “Colleges must not offer incentives exclusive to students applying or admitted under an early decision application plan. Examples of incentives include the promise of special housing, enhanced financial aid packages, and special scholarships for early decision admits. Colleges may, however, disclose how admission rates for early decision differ from those for other admission plans.”

  • “College choices should be informed, well-considered, and free from coercion. Students require a reasonable amount of time to identify their college choices; complete applications for admission, financial aid, and scholarships; and decide which offer of admission to accept. Once students have committed themselves to a college, other colleges must respect that choice and cease recruiting them.”

  • “Colleges will not knowingly recruit or offer enrollment incentives to students who are already enrolled, registered, have declared their intent, or submitted contractual deposits to other institutions. May 1 is the point at which commitments to enroll become final, and colleges must respect that. The recognized exceptions are when students are admitted from a waitlist, students initiate inquiries themselves, or cooperation is sought by institutions that provide transfer programs.”

  • “Colleges must not solicit transfer applications from a previous year’s applicant or prospect pool unless the students have themselves initiated a transfer inquiry or the college has verified prior to contacting the students that they are either enrolled at a college that allows transfer recruitment from other colleges or are not currently enrolled in a college.”

What’s In Store For The Future?

Of course, it’s not yet entirely clear how these removed rules will affect students or the colleges themselves. However, there are concerns about poaching. Critics worry that colleges and universities will attempt to recruit students even after the student made their school decision. In response, some schools may actually raise their required deposits, in an effort to prevent students from changing their choice.

On the other hand, the changes may allow smaller schools to compete with big-name colleges and universities. With this competition, different colleges may offer students varying financial aid packages. Therefore, students are able to choose the option best for them. People who are in favor of the changes argue that this competitiveness will benefit the students.

Students looking to apply to colleges in the coming years should be aware of the changes the NACAC made. Students should also do their research into the entire admissions process, including deposits and any potential agreements they make with the school regarding attendance.

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