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Wisconsin Watch partners with Gigafact to produce fact briefs — bite-sized fact checks of trending claims. Read our methodology to learn how we check claims.


The U.S. Supreme Court’s June 29, 2023, ruling striking down affirmative action in college admissions did not address using legacy as a preference in admissions.

Legacy generally refers to a student applicant who has family ties to a college’s alumni.

News reports after the ruling described new pressure on universities that give an advantage to legacy applicants.

Activist groups and several members of Congress demanded an end to the practice, saying it favors white applicants. A civil rights legal group sued to challenge legacy admissions at Harvard University.

It’s unclear which U.S. schools provide a legacy boost and how much it helps, the Associated Press reported. In California, where disclosure is required, USC and Stanford said that about 14% of admitted students last year had family ties to alumni or donors.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison does not officially consider legacy, according to two admissions consulting firms.

This Fact Brief is responsive to conversations such as this one.


US Supreme Court Students for Fair Admissions Inc., v. President and Fellows of Harvard College

GBH (Boston) Lawsuit challenges legacy admissions at Harvard, alleging racial discrimination

AP News Affirmative action for white people? Legacy college admissions come under renewed scrutiny

College Admissions Consultant Services Legacy Status Explained: Which Colleges Consider It?

College Transitions Colleges that Consider Legacy Status

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Tom Kertscher joined as a Wisconsin Watch fact checker in January 2023 and contributes to our collaboration with the The Gigafact Project to fight misinformation online. Kertscher is a former longtime newspaper reporter, including at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, who has worked as a self-employed journalist since 2019. His gigs include contributing writer for PolitiFact and sports freelancer for The Associated Press.