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UCS president introduces No Apologies Initiative

Nguyen ’17 pens letter urging for application fee waivers for first-gen, low-income students

Undergraduate Council of Students President Viet Nguyen ’17 introduced the No Apologies Initiative during the UCS meeting Wednesday night with a letter calling universities to waive application fees for first-generation and low-income applicants by the 2017-18 academic year.

Those who signed the letter penned by Nguyen include presidents of undergraduate student governments and leaders of first-generation and low-income student groups from 10 peer universities, including the seven other Ivy League schools, Stanford University, Northwestern University and the University of Chicago.

Many universities charge applicants more than $50 to apply, according to the Common Application’s website. The cost of taking standardized tests and sending scores to colleges can also pose an undue burden to students, according to the letter. Though the College Board can waive the cost of sending scores, it grants a maximum of only four waivers, according to the College Board’s website.

Many low-income applicants use fee waivers for schools they have a better chance of getting into rather than more competitive universities for which they are academically qualified, Nguyen said.

“I really do hope this changes the way applicants view college,” Nguyen told The Herald. “There is so much misinformation out there that prevents low-income students from applying because they don’t have access to the necessary knowledge sources. Not having students jump through bureaucratic hoops is a very important step.”

The letter begins with Nguyen’s own experience as a low-income applicant facing high application costs.

“While these schools provided outstanding financial support once admitted, the support in the application process was another story,” Nguyen wrote in the letter.

Citing studies from the Washington Post, the New York Times and the Atlantic, the letter describes the lack of low-income students at top universities. To increase socio-economic diversity in institutions of higher education, the letter calls on universities to ensure that first-generation and low-income students are not deterred by the financial costs of applying.

“Our lever of change is looking at how we can increase the number of qualified students from a lower socio-economic background,” Nguyen told The Herald. “We want students from lower socio-economic backgrounds to apply to Brown.”

Nguyen is meeting with administrators from Brown, such as Dean of Admission Logan Powell, and speaking with those from other schools to address logistics and “the most effective way” to achieve the goals outlined in the letter.

Nguyen ended the meeting by calling on UCS members to spread the word about the initiative and said that pressure from the student body would help move the initiative forward.

Chief of the Department of Public Safety Mark Porter, Deputy Chief of Police Paul Shanley and Manager of Special Services for DPS Michelle Nuey also spoke at the UCS meeting to review DPS initiatives, field questions and hear suggestions by UCS members about how DPS can further its relationship with and increase trust within the Brown community.

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