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Senate Co-Sponsorship Memoranda

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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: March 31, 2022 02:05 PM
From: Senator Scott Martin and Sen. Art Haywood
To: All Senate members
Subject: Fair Chance College Education Act
Education has long been one of the most important pathways to success, but every year individuals with a criminal record are deterred from pursuing or completing their education because of their past.  When colleges or universities require applicants to disclose criminal records or even a history of being arrested, applicants are less likely to complete the application or can be overwhelmed by the process that follows the disclosure. 

We plan to introduce legislation similar to House Bill 866 that will prohibit public colleges and universities in Pennsylvania from requesting information on the school’s application or making inquiries into the criminal history of the applicant during the application process except under certain circumstances.  These exceptions include murder, sexual assault, terrorism, abuse of children and other heinous crimes.  However, the school may make inquiries after the student becomes enrolled in order to provide support services, counseling and other academic and career planning guidance.

A 2019 report from the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers found that 70 percent of four-year colleges require applicants to report criminal history.  Some institutions have made the independent decision not to include this information in the application process and the Common Application, used by 900 member institutions in all 50 states voluntarily made this change in 2018.  States like Louisiana, Maryland, Virginia, Colorado and Washington have adopted similar legislation and federal legislation is also being considered.

Reducing barriers to success and promoting access to education has the potential to reduce recidivism and will undoubtedly generate positive outcomes for these individuals and our Commonwealth as a whole. 

Please join us in co-sponsoring this legislation.