College acceptance letters will be available online starting Tuesday

All Idaho high school seniors will wake up Tuesday to news that a Direct Admissions letter to some or all of Idaho’s public colleges and universities awaits them online.

It’s all part of revamped Next Steps Idaho and Apply Idaho programs that have new procedures in place this year due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the changes is that all seniors will get a Direct Admissions letter telling them which Idaho colleges or universities they will be accepted to, even if they did not meet traditional GPA requirements. All students have to do is apply to one or all of the schools to confirm their interest.

“There is a letter waiting for everybody,” State Board of Education spokesman Mike Keckler said.

Another big change is that students must access their Direct Admissions letters online by logging on to the Next Steps Idaho website beginning Tuesday. They must also visit the Apply Idaho section under the “For high school students” header. Students will then create a free Apply Idaho account using their EDUID number. (Students can get this number from a high school counselor if they don’t already have it.)

Students will be able to print, email or save their personalized admissions letters.

In years past, State Board of Education staffers mailed postcards to all Idaho seniors who received a Direct Admissions letter. But the cancellation of Idaho’s free SAT Day and other college entrance exams this spring derailed those plans, said Byron Yankey, the State Board of Education’s college and career advising program manager.

Normally, the State Board would obtain students’ home addresses for the Direct Admissions letters from the forms they filled out with the SAT or ACT test.

That didn’t happen this year.

“With all those cancellations this spring, we were left with no viable student contact information for mailing,” Yankey said.

The State Board and Idaho’s public colleges and universities tweaked their testing and admissions requirements in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

As a result, seniors with an unweighted GPA of 2.8 or higher from the fall of their junior year will receive admissions letters to eight colleges and universities, Yankey said. Students with GPAs lower than 2.8 will receive letters from six colleges and universities. Students with lower GPAs may need to complete extra steps for admission and course placement depending on the college or university, Yankey said.

“Our post-secondary schools know this is such an unusual year, so they are building in all types of support for students applying in their senior year to be up and ready for next fall,” Yankey said. “The message behind all of this is every student who graduates from an Idaho high should know there is an opportunity for them waiting in one of our colleges and universities.”

Offering online Direct Admissions letters to all seniors is just one of the changes coming to Idaho’s go-on and Next Steps programs in the coming weeks:

  • The State Board is planning a free, online virtual college fair Sept. 29-Oct. 1. It will be open to students, counselors, adults and members of the community.
  • On Oct. 1, students who received a Direct Admissions letter will be able to log back on to their Next Steps Idaho account and apply to some or all of Idaho’s colleges for free. All of Idaho’s public colleges and universities, as well as private Northwest Nazarene University and College of Idaho, are participating in the program.
  • Oct. 1 is also the date both the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and Idaho state scholarships open.

The State Board has sent out Direct Admissions letters to high school seniors since 2015. The streamlined, automatic acceptance process and free applications are part of the state’s strategry for students to continue beyond high school.

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