Utah State University will provide alternatives to new students unable to take the ACT or SAT placement exams who are seeking academic merit scholarships for the spring, summer and fall 2021 semesters.
The change follows an initial announcement in August that the university would transition to a test-optional admittance policy in 2021 following logistical test-preparation and administration disruptions due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Those same students will also be considered for scholarships regardless of whether they have taken the ACT or SAT.
“USU understands that many high school students have been limited in their ability to take standardized tests over the past several months,” said Katie Jo North, executive director of new student enrollment. “This has affected thousands of potential students who face an unfair hurdle in receiving scholarships they may otherwise deserve.”
This year, students who apply for scholarships without a standardized test score will receive a comprehensive academic review. Among the benchmarks considered will be grade point average (GPA), high school course rigor, class rank, and other criteria.
“As a research institution, we know that one metric alone does not always predict academic success,” said Robert Wagner, vice president for academic and instructional services. “By conducting a personalized review of these students’ academic record, we will provide hard-working students an alternative route to receiving scholarships to USU.”
Existing and advertised parameters for scholarships using the GPA and test score criteria matrix will be guaranteed, and USU encourages students to take the ACT or SAT if accessible. Those who cannot provide a test score in their scholarship application process will be given additional application information by the USU Admissions Office by Oct. 5, 2020.
Academic merit scholarships for resident students at the Logan campus range from $3,000 per year for two years to 100 percent of tuition and fees for four years. Scholarships for non-resident students in Logan range from $11,500 per year to full tuition and fees for four years. The deadline to apply via the traditional or alternative route for academic merit scholarships is Jan. 10, 2021.
Over the next year, a task force that includes university faculty, administration and analysts will conduct an in-depth review of USU’s admissions and scholarship data and recommend a long-term plan in regard to standardized test requirements. The task force and university administrators will consider recruitment, retention, equity and access issues when considering the future of standardized testing requirements.
“At USU, we value opportunities to promote equity in our processes and to break down barriers for those who have traditionally been underserved or underrepresented,” Wagner said. “Through intentional planning and careful research, we anticipate finding a long-term solution that encourages those students to apply and provides for additional opportunities to fund their schooling.”
Admissions in 2021 will be based solely on GPA, although applicants may still decide to include standardized test scores with those applications as well.
Potential applicants are invited to learn more about admissions and scholarship opportunities at USU’s in-person and virtual open houses.