USC Officials Discussed How Much Wealthy Parents Could Donate When Their Kids Applied: Records

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Messages sent between USC’s athletic and admissions offices underscore a truism in college admissions: money talks.

The cache of emails, which were made public Tuesday when an attorney for a father facing charges in the college admissions scandal filed them in court, turn an unsparing light on how the university flags children of possible donors and other influential families for special consideration in the application process.

The emails, for example, include the wish list of “special interest” applicants a top official from the athletic department sent each spring to the head of the school’s admissions office. In the emails, as well as internal spreadsheets included in the filings, the students were often identified by how much money their parents had donated or were expected to give to the school. Influential figures at USC who were pushing for a student to be admitted were also noted and, in some cases, a parent’s profession was listed.

In a spreadsheet attached to one of the emails, which included roughly 200 “special interest” applicants put forth by the athletic department between 2012 and 2015, a note for one student read, “25,000 check and more later.” “1 mil pledge,” read another. Several others were noted simply as “donor.”

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