Public colleges and universities in Colorado will no longer require prospective students to submit SAT or ACT scores during the admissions process under a new law signed by Governor Polis.

Gov. Polis also signed another bill, HB21-1173, on Tuesday (May 25) that makes Colorado the first state to prevent legacy admissions at its public universities.

The Denver Post claims wealthier families are more likely to be able to afford SAT or ACT tutoring and to live in better-funded school districts that produce college applicants with higher scores.

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Additionally, those same families are also more likely to have family legacies at Colorado colleges and universities.

“What we’re finding in institutions of higher education is that it’s better to have a holistic approach to admissions,” Governor Polis said. “We need to make sure that admissions practices are equitable.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, several school districts across the state had cancelled standardized tests, such as the SAT and ACT; in some fashion, higher education institutions have had already had somewhat of a head start to observe how the newly signed law will work in practice.

“What they found was a significant increase in the number of students of color not only applying but being admitted,” said Representative Tony Exum, a Colorado Springs Democrat who sponsored the bill.

This new law, according to the Denver Post, preserves the option for an applicant to submit an SAT or ACT score when they apply. The law goes into effect immediately.

The legacy-admissions bill is set to go into effect 90 days after the legislature adjourns its session, which is expected to occur before June 12.

“I was a … first-generation college graduate,” said Senator Brittany Pettersen, a Lakewood Democrat and a sponsor of the test-score bill. “It was significantly unlikely that I would actually pursue a college education. The obstacles are already there for people like me. (Legacy admissions) give more of a leg up for people who are already privileged.”

The Denver Post says the legislature is expected to give final approval later Tuesday to SB21-29, which would offer in-state tuition at Colorado’s public colleges and universities to students who belong to American Indian tribes with historical ties to the state, regardless of whether the applicant actually lives in the state or not.

Governor Polis is expected to sign that bill into law sometime in the coming weeks.

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