ASA is considering an amendment which creates a fund that reimburses students who take graduate entrance exams like the LSAT, GRE and MCAT.
At ASA’s Feb. 25 meeting, vice president Tyler Beck, who worked closely with treasurer Darwin Garcia on the amendment, said the senate would allocate 2.5 percent of its annual budget, or roughly $6,000 each semester, towards the fund for a total of about $12,000 each year.
Reimbursements would be distributed by Billie Streufert, executive director for the Student Success Center. Exams could be partially or fully funded, based on the individual student’s need. However, all students applying would receive some percentage of funding.
In 2018, 69 students took postgraduate entrance exams, according to the Student Success Center. By ASA’s estimates, it would cost just under $16,000 to fully cover one exam for each student.
Senior senator Josh Barrows said the fund excludes licenses and certifications, so not all in-need students, like those pursuing nursing, business and education degrees, would be reimbursed for the NCLEX, Praxis, CPA or similar exams required to enter their professional fields.
“This seems almost classist,” Barrows said at the meeting. “We are adding this benefit for people who will be, in general, earning more in the long run. We’re ignoring the need of a whole other area.”
Beck said the ASA executive board left those students out of the original amendment because they are able to enter the workforce immediately after receiving an undergraduate degree and may have the option to get their certifications and licenses funded by employers.
President Anna Stritecky said that the needs of international students motivated the fund, as these students don’t qualify for federal aid and must show postgraduate institutions a comprehensive payment plan for their education.
“A lot of the times, international students are disproportionately disadvantaged by [graduate] tests rather than certifications and are also ineligible for postgraduate and doctoral grants,” Beck said.
The Senate debated the amendment for over 30 minutes before deciding to table the bill. It is gathering more information before making a final decision, one that may include certifications.
ASA will make a final decision on the amendment at its next meeting on Monday, Mar. 25.