The trial court held UNC-Chapel Hill met the legal obligation to seriously consider potential race-neutral alternatives to our admissions approach. We continually evaluate our admissions process and assess the viability of other options that will allow us to admit a diverse and high-achieving student body.
The trial court agreed that replacing our holistic process with race-neutral alternatives — including those examined by Carolina and others suggested by SFFA — would not allow us to achieve the educational benefits of diversity as well as the current holistic process without sacrificing academic quality standards.
Carolina has engaged in continuing efforts to consider and use race-neutral strategies, including through annual meetings with experts and peers in the field, staying abreast of the latest research and discussion of race-neutral strategies, and following the outcomes and experiences of other universities that have tested race-neutral alternatives. In addition, the University has conducted its own analyses into additional race-neutral alternatives.
Examples of UNC-Chapel Hill’s current race-neutral strategies include admission fee waivers, as well as nationally recognized initiatives to foster socioeconomic diversity such as the:
- Carolina Covenant, a ground-breaking program for academically qualified low-income students that supports the full financial need of academically qualified low-income so they may graduate debt-free. The Carolina Covenant has brought over 10,500 scholars to Chapel Hill and led to dramatically improved graduation rates among our lowest-income students. Recent enhancements have included creating a support network to help Covenant Scholars increase career readiness and admission to advanced degree programs;
- Carolina College Advising Corps, which places recent North Carolina college graduates as admissions and financial aid advisors in underserved high schools across North Carolina to reinforce the importance of a college education and guide prospective students through the admissions process. During 2021–2022, the program included 50 advisers serving nearly 10,500 graduating seniors in 63 under-resourced high schools. The Corps builds a statewide pipeline to college for students and now provides opportunities for advisors to gain AmeriCorps service credit and experience toward graduate study or a career; and the
- Carolina Student Transfer Excellence Program (C-STEP), which partners with 14 community colleges in North Carolina — most in rural counties — to identify talented low-and moderate-income community college students and to provide a pathway for admission to UNC-Chapel Hill. In the program’s first 13 years, 85 percent of C-STEP students graduated from Carolina.
Although Carolina has made sustained progress, our court filings and the trial court decision conclude the efforts to achieve the educational benefits of diversity are unfinished and require more work.