State Board expands online college application program

The State Board of Education expanded a popular online college application portal Thursday to include two private colleges.

Northwest Nazarene University and College of Idaho will soon join the state’s eight public colleges and universities in the Apply Idaho program. Launched as part of the state’s Next Steps program, Apply Idaho allows Idaho students to submit applications to any or all of the participating colleges and universities at one time without paying any application fees.

The program is one of several that state officials are promoting in order to boost the state’s go-on rates.

State Board Chief Financial Officer Carson Howell said that more about 30 students responded to state surveys saying they would be interested in adding either NNU or C of I to the Apply Idaho program.

The Apply Idaho expansion passed 4-1 over the objection of State Board member Emma Atchley.

“I’m quite uncomfortable with this,” Atchley said. “These (private) institutions are not under the purview of the Board, and we have no control over their policies.”

Nobody else spoke in opposition to the expansion. Three board members were absent, including State Superintendent Sherri Ybarra.

Apply Idaho is offline for annual maintenance, updates and changes, but will be reopen Oct. 1 for high school seniors to begin submitting applications, a State Board spokesman said.

State Superintendent Sherri Ybarra

NNU and C of I’s participation is Apply Idaho will not extend to the direct admissions program. Only Idaho’s public colleges and universities will offer automatic, direct admissions letters to eligible Idaho high school graduates, a policy which is unchanged.

Ybarra, who attended Wednesday’s portion of the State Board meeting, did not attend Thursday’s portion, although it was on her official weekly schedule sent out Monday morning by her communications staff.

One of Ybarra’s Boise-based spokeswomen told Idaho Education News she wasn’t at the Thursday meeting because she returned home to prepare for her vacation, which starts Friday. Ybarra’s schedule says she is on vacation through July 6.

State Board members David Hill and Debbie Critchfield also did not attend Thursday’s meeting.

Wednesday and Thursday’s meetings took place at the new College of Eastern Idaho in Idaho Falls, and were streamed live online.

State Board member Debbie Critchfield

Otter reappoints Critchfield

In other State Board news, Gov. Butch Otter reappointed Critchfield to a five-year term Wednesday. Critchfield, a spokeswoman and public information officer for the Cassia School District, will continue to serve on the State Board until July 1, 2023. Otter originally appointed her in 2014 to fill out the unfinished term of Ken Edmunds, who left the State Board to become director of the Idaho Department of Labor.

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