The Bush-era guidance had been removed from the government website during the Obama administration, but it has since reappeared.
"Our economy, society and democracy are enriched when every person, regardless of their zip code, has a shot at a quality education that allows them to climb the ladders of opportunity", she said in a statement.
The Supreme Court has weighed the issue of affirmative action several times, most recently reaffirming it in 2016 but leaving an opening for future legal challenges. "Schools should continue to offer equal opportunities for all students while abiding by the law". The documents, which were jointly-released by the departments of justice and education, also argued that colleges and universities had a "compelling interest" in "obtaining the benefits that flow from achieving a diverse student body", and outlined the options colleges could take under law in pursuit of that goal. And Trump officials are ready to argue that the rules go well beyond the what the Supreme Court has ruled on the issue. He said it was appropriate for the administration to ditch policies that had encouraged schools to weigh race and ethnicity in deciding where students would be assigned or admitted.
But former Obama officials criticized the move.
The administration revived the probe a year ago after Obama civil rights officials.
The administration's new policy returns federal guidance to where it was under George W. Bush. "Taking away that guidance undermines the steps toward equity school communities have always been taking".
The Trump administration is also likely preparing to oppose Harvard's admissions policies in a lawsuit that was filed by the Students for Fair Admissions claiming that the Ivy League university's race-based policies hurt Asian-American applicants, Clegg said.
On Twitter, Vanita Gupta, who ran the Justice Department's civil rights department under Obama, wrote: "This guidance restated the law and our national commitment to diversity". However, the action does suggest that the federal government will be more willing to investigate complaints by applicants that they were denied entrance to a particular college due to their race, experts said.
Not all colleges use race in admissions. Some states, including California and Florida, prohibit public universities from considering race and ethnicity.
In 2016, the US Supreme Court had ruled in favour of affirmative action.
The Trump administration's action was put in motion with a letter from Kenneth Marcus, assistant education secretary for civil rights, and John Gore, acting assistant attorney general. With Trump expected to announce his nominee next week, the issue should be a central part of any confirmation process, said Howard University School of Law Dean Danielle Holley-Walker. "It happens all the time across administrative units". "We still have all of the Supreme Court rulings that would influence how we handle this". It confused school officials, who anxious that their policies for assigning students ran afoul of the law.
The head of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) hammered the Trump administration on Tuesday for revoking federal guidelines that encourage colleges to consider race in their admissions determinations, calling the move an unveiled attack on minorities.
That guidance has now been rescinded, as have about a half-dozen similar documents, including some that sought to explain court rulings affirming the use of race as a factor in admissions decisions.