Supreme Court Rulings: How Last Week’s Decisions Impact UA

July 7, 2023

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court issued two highly-anticipated rulings that have impacts on higher education. In the first case, the Court determined the Biden Administration lacked legal authority to provide student loan debt relief to certain borrowers. And in the second case, the Court ruled that use of race as a factor in college admissions (commonly known as Affirmative Action) is unconstitutional.

Student Debt Relief

UA alumni and current students who were waiting on the debt relief ruling should be aware that other avenues are being pursued. Last week, President Biden announced new actions to provide debt relief and support for student loan borrowers; more details on that process are available here.

If you do have outstanding student loan debt from any institution, remember that pandemic-era pause on student loan repayments will end this fall. Payments will need to be restarted by October 1; the information provided by your loan servicer or servicing company will have specific details. Additional guidance from the U.S. Department of Education will be made available at after the Department has finished reviewing the ruling.

UAA, UAF, and UAS are consistently ranked as some of the most affordable public universities in the United States. Many students attending UA also have the opportunity to access non-loan financial aid - including the Alaska Performance Scholarship, UA Scholars Program, Pell Grants, and other tuition assistance programs. 

Affordability and accessibility are also priorities of President Pitney and the Board of Regents. Goals and Measures established by the President and Board include reducing the percentage of students graduating with debt, lowering the average debt of graduating students, and increasing the percentage of students who receive non-loan financial aid. As an institution, we’ll continue to support and promote efforts systemwide that empower students for long-term success.

Affirmative Action

For now, we don’t anticipate the Court’s decision on affirmative action will have a significant impact on admission processes, although UA Leadership is still reviewing the ruling. 

UAA, UAF, and UAS are a little different than many universities, in that their missions include what would, in most systems, be community colleges. As a result, admission to UA is open to anyone who meets the minimum academic requirements of the university to which one applies, and race is not a factor in whether a student is admitted.

Promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion across the UA System remains a central goal of President Pitney and the Board. We want to make all our students, faculty, and staff feel welcomed and supported, and to foster an open, inclusive, and vibrant educational experience across the system. The more integrated we are -- the more diversity that we have in all of our programs -- the stronger we become.