If you want to receive need based aid from a college you need to file a FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid each year. As part of that form you have to list each of the colleges you are applying to for aid. Most students put their first choice college down first, then their second choice, etc.
For many years most applicants to colleges did not understand that the order of colleges listed on the FAFSA could be seen by the colleges being applied to. This may not seem like a big deal but colleges were using that information to see if you put their college near the top of the list and thus presumably had more interest in attending than a college put lower on the list.
The effect of this was that some students would be rejected simply because they put a college lower on their FAFSA list and colleges assumed that meant that they weren’t as interested in the college.
Inside Higher Ed recently reported that the US Department of Education has announced that colleges would no longer be able to see where they were placed in the FAFSA application. This is good news for the students who did not understand that the order of the colleges on the FAFSA could have admissions implications.
There is enough lack of transparency in the college admissions process. Eliminating one of those through this action is a good thing.