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U-Michigan find high-achieving, low-income students

In a pilot program launching this fall, the U-M will test a new approach to connecting with high-achieving, low-income students across the state—with the goal of enrolling more of them on the Ann Arbor campus.

ANN ARBOR—The new approach involves developing a unique package of admissions information, including a step-by-step guide for applying to U-M and vouchers providing free access to key portions of the application process.

For those students who apply and are admitted to U-M, the payoff is huge: A HAIL (High Achieving Involved Leader) scholarship that provides four years of free tuition and required fees—a $60,000 value. Students will likely be eligible for further financial aid to cover other costs such as housing and textbooks.

By removing the financial barriers to enroll at U-M, students will have access to an institution committed to ensuring their success. U-M's Ann Arbor campus has a state's best 97-percent freshman retention rate and 91-percent graduation rate.

The new materials will be offered to a cohort of high-achieving, low-income Michigan high school seniors in each of the next two years. Students will be selected for the HAIL initiative based on their financial need and early indications of their likelihood to be competitive in the admissions process. The students must apply and be admitted to receive the scholarship.

The university developed the pilot program in collaboration with Susan Dynarski, U-M professor of education, public policy and economics, who studies inequality in education and the optimal design for college financial aid.

Students who receive the information packet will be drawn from 259 public high schools throughout the state—urban, rural and suburban—that represent the diversity of Michigan. Students will be mailed a package of information and their parents or guardians will receive a separate letter detailing the outreach effort. High school principals and counselors at the participating schools also will be informed about the program.

Students will be asked to make an immediate connection to U-M by registering on a personalized website to obtain a free U-M t-shirt. That connection will allow the Office of Undergraduate Admissions to keep in touch throughout the normal admission process.

U-M's commitment to access for economically disadvantaged students is not new, but the outreach is changing. (SOURCE: University of Michigan)

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