Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Following the Students for Fair Admission v. Harvard Supreme Court decision, the University of Iowa consulted with the Iowa Attorney General’s office and the Office of the Board of Regents. Based on the principles articulated by the U.S. Supreme Court, the university is reviewing and amending scholarships and other financial aid offerings that use certain protected class characteristics (e.g. race, gender, age, national origin, or sexual orientation) as selection criteria. 


Q. What are protected classes?  

A. Federal and State of Iowa non-discrimination laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of certain defined characteristics, sometimes called “protected classes”, including religion, race, disability, ethnicity, color, national origin and sex/gender.  

 Q. Which scholarships or funds will be impacted?  

A. The university is still reviewing scholarships and financial aid offerings but has announced a change in selection criteria for the Advantage Iowa Award.  

  • The Advantage Iowa Award, which was previously a merit-based scholarship for incoming first-year students from historically underrepresented populations, will now be a need-based award for students of all backgrounds.  
    • Students currently receiving the Advantage Iowa Award will not be impacted by this decision. 

 Q. Will students now be able to apply for these scholarships using the current selection criteria? 

A. Yes, the review will continue, though many scholarship criteria will not be changed until after this admissions cycle.  

 Q. Why is this change happening now? 

A. As a public university receiving state and federal funds, the University of Iowa is bound by state and federal laws. Recent court cases have provided a new framework for analyzing scholarships. After consulting with the Iowa Attorney General and Iowa Board of Regents, we are reviewing and modifying language to make sure the university is compliant with the Supreme Court’s directives and regulatory guidance while continuing to provide support for UI students through private gifts.  

Q. Is this change related to the proposed DEI legislation in Iowa? 

A. The changes are not directly related to the proposed DEI legislation.  It is based on recent Supreme Court rulings on higher education.  

Q. Is the University of Iowa the only institution moving this direction? 

A. No. The University of Iowa is aligned with other Iowa regent institutions on this issue. The court cases and regulatory guidance apply at the national level. Like others, we are reviewing agreement language so we can best serve the university in its efforts to continue meeting its legal obligations.  

Q. Will any of these changes affect admission practices? 

A. No. The University of Iowa welcomes all undergraduate students who meet the Regent Admission Index, which is based on ACT composite score, GPA and required high school courses. Sex/gender, race, and other defined characteristics, sometimes called “protected classes,” are not considered during the admission process.  

Q. Will any of these changes affect current scholarship recipients?  

A. Current scholarship recipients will not be affected.  

Q. What will happen to UI scholarships for students of a protected class?  

A. The University of Iowa’s separate charitable organization, University of Iowa Center for Advancement, is reviewing all funds that may be impacted and will reach out to donors to revisit the small group of scholarships that may fall into this category. Working with the donor, they will review the designation language to ensure it both meets donor intent and complies with the law.