Residence-based admission preferences

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This article is a stub for Residence-based admission preferences, a policy in Education. Click "Edit" to improve or expand the article. For help adding a new policy, see Template, or view a sample policy page at Colocation.

Residence-based admission preferences include policies administered by educational institutions and districts that provide advantages to applicants who reside within a specific geographic area. The type of preferential treatment can vary but may include lowered standards for admission or reduced tuition, typically to increase access to or lower the cost of attending publicly-supported institutions for residents of the institution's taxing jurisdiction.



Alamo University, a public university that is funded largely by taxes collected in the State of Alamo, guarantees admission to any residents of Alamo whose grades rank in the top half of their graduating high school class as long as they meet minimum educational prerequisites (e.g., having completed a certain level of mathematics education). Additionally, students who are Alamo residents pay only 50 percent of the tuition that non-Alamo residents are charged. This policy is the result of legislation passed in the State of Alamo and is strongly supported by the voters of Alamo, who subsidize the cost of Alamo University with their state tax payments.


Tradeoffs of implementing this policy may include:

  1. Potential to increase socioeconomic segregation (e.g., well-resourced schools drawing more from a local, wealthy, homogeneous population and providing less access to students who are low-income or of different backgrounds and do not live in the district).
  2. Reduced applications from non-residents, potentially reducing overall enrollment (in exchange for increased local enrollment)
  3. Reduced immigration to district
  4. Reduced (or increased) academic proficiency of student body

Other relevant factors in considering whether and how to implement this policy include:

  1. Resident demographics
  2. Tuition discounts
  3. Reduced admission standards



Nearly all publicly-funded state universities offer some form of resident-based admission preferences. Relevant entities who have implemented or adopted this policy include:


Relevant entities who support or are likely to support this policy include:


Relevant entities who oppose or are likely to oppose this policy include:


  1. "School choice and segregation: evidence from an admission reform." Söderström, Martin and Roope Uusitalo. This working paper examines a policy change in Stockholm upper primary schools that included an entire district abandoning residence-based admission preferences in favor of solely applying merit-based admission. Segregation increased based on ability, by family background, and between immigrants and natives. A version of this paper (not freely available) was formally published in 2010.


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