UT opts out of Coalition for College Access application system

Jameson Pitts

A group of more than 80 universities is creating a new college application process, claiming it will increase access for low-income students. While Rice University and Texas A&M University have joined, UT has not, citing criticisms of the program.

The Coalition for College Access, Affordability, and Success is a new application system that will allow students to begin gathering information for college applications in ninth grade. The coalition claims this will extend access to low-income students who are under-represented at selective universities by involving them in the application process earlier, but this premise has lead to debate in the media.

Associate director of admissions Michael Orr said UT did not apply to the coalition because of criticisms of the programs, including the coalition’s failure to consult with high school counselors. 

“The argument within the community … has been that there is a concern that students with means will be the ones that will be able to take advantage of that opportunity the most,” Orr said. 

Although UT declined the coalition’s invitation to apply for membership, Orr did not rule out future involvement.

“There may be opportunities in the future to be a part of that coalition, but we’re not ready to make that decision today,” Orr said.

The coalition requires its members to maintain a 70 percent six-year graduation rate, fulfillment of student need, or — for public institutions — “affordable in-state tuition.” Marielle Sainvilus, spokeswoman for the coalition, declined to comment on whether UT would meet these requirements.

“We can’t comment on why any particular schools are members or not,” Sainvilus said. 

Chris Muñoz, vice president for enrollment at Rice University, said the hiccups of a new system are better than the alternative of not taking action to help students without robust support systems. 

“[Joining at] this early stage means that we’re going to get to have some input,” Muñoz said. “For us, that is a benefit, but I can certainly support and understand why UT-Austin officials would say, ‘Let’s see how it works, and we can join later.’” 

Rice will begin to accept applications through the coalition next year, and Muñoz said Rice’s primary motivation for joining the coalition was having multiple application options to prevent a situation where the failure of one system causes applications to be lost, as recently occurred with the Common Application. 

While Texas A&M uses ApplyTexas, the same application system UT uses, A&M declined to comment on its participation in the coalition for this story.