New SHEEO report shows Idaho Direct Admissions program impact on institution selectivity

Direct Admissions programs are designed to demystify the college application process, reduce barriers to entry, and encourage students to enroll in postsecondary education. Since 2015, Direct Admissions policies have garnered a lot of attention, with Idaho being the first in the nation to implement the program. The program has since emerged as a potential model for other states considering similar reforms. Previous research on Direct Admissions policies in Idaho has examined the policy’s effectiveness on institutional applications and enrollment outcomes. In a new paper, SHEEO uses data on the receipt of a Letter of 6 and receipt of a Letter of 8 to understand how Direct Admissions policies influence student choice in institutional selectivity. 

Using the student’s SAT score and GPA, the Idaho Office of the State Board of Education proactively admits high school students to the “Letter of 6” or “Letter of 8.” Students receiving the Letter of 8 are admitted to all of Idaho’s public higher education institutions, while students receiving the Letter of 6 are admitted to all except Boise State University and the University of Idaho, the two more selective institutions in the state. Once a student is guaranteed a seat at any of the colleges listed in their Direct Admissions letter, students then apply to the institutions of choice to verify their enrollment intentions.

SHEEO examined data from 2018-2020, including demographic characteristics and school choice of students above and below GPA thresholds for students receiving the Letter of 8. Analysis found that students with a low SAT score and/or low GPA are less likely to attend one of the more selective institutions based on academic performance alone, but receiving the Letter of 8 encourages their enrollment at these selective institutions.

Read the full report and learn more at