Enrollment numbers show more diverse UM

Holly Fournier, and Kim Kozlowski

The University of Michigan is becoming more diverse — enrolling more students of color, first-generation and low-income students as well as more students from Michigan high schools, officials announced Wednesday.

Total enrollment on the Ann Arbor campus this fall is 44,718 students, up 2.4 percent over fall 2015. Of the total, 28,983 are undergraduate students, including 12.3 percent of students who are minorities, an increase from 11.4 percent last fall.

The freshman class includes 6,689 students, up 618 from last year, officials said. That’s a 10.2 percent increase, including a 12.8 percent increase in minorities. African-American, Hawaiian, Hispanic and Native American students made up 13.8 percent of the first-year class, officials said.

“After carefully fine-tuning our enrollment process last year, we set out to intentionally grow the freshman class,” said Kedra Ishop, associate vice president for enrollment management. “We hit our target this fall and now expect to have a stable and consistent freshman class size while continuing our admissions outreach and enrollment efforts.”

The number of incoming freshmen who received federal Pell Grants, designed to help low-income students attend college, increased by 15.3 percent this year, officials said. A total of 17 percent of freshman are using the grant to attend the school this year.

Increases also were recorded among first-generation students, which are those whose parents or guardians did not earn bachelor’s degrees.

Of this year’s freshmen, 14.2 percent were considered first-generation, up from 8.5 percent last year.

Aiden Ramirez-Tatum is a freshman, Latino, first-generation student from a low-income family. He said it’s good to see the university becoming more diverse, particularly with those from low-income families.

“I would love to meet some of these students,” said Ramirez-Tatum of Greenville. “It’s a startlingly affluent space, coming from a space where there is a lot of poverty. I am struggling to find any sort of support specifically for low-income students beyond financial aid. I am talking about a group for low-income students. There’s a group for first-generation students but that doesn’t cover the exact experience of coming from a working-class background. I love it here, but just my first month and a half here has been a culture shock specifically in relation to class.”

The latest data available of UM’s low-income students is from 2013 and shows it is low: 8 percent of in-state students came from families with incomes between $25,001-$50,000, and 9 percent came from families with income of $25,000 or less.

Meanwhile, a total of 11,067 in-state students applied this year, officials said. Of those, 44 percent (or 4,895 students) were offered admission and 3,391 enrolled.

The in-state students hailed from 528 different Michigan high schools, 38 more than last year.

On the out-of-state side, 25 percent, or 10,976, of the 44,437 applications were accepted, officials said. A total of 3,298 of those students enrolled.

Transfer-student enrollment also increased by nearly 19.3 percent to 1,060 students, with 172 students coming from satellite campuses.

This year’s transfer students tended “to be more representative of underrepresented minorities, first-generation students and come from more low-income families than in 2015,” officials said of the figures.

These figures came three weeks after UM rolled out an $85 million plan to increase campus diversity as part of its first major effort to address the issue under the leadership of President Mark Schlissel.

A more diverse student body this year comes in the wake of racist fliers that appeared a few weeks ago on campus, prompting student and faculty demonstrations and several denouncements from Schlissel.

UM’s increased diversity also is evolving after the school was at the center of a decade-long, national debate around affirmative action in higher education, twice involving the U.S. Supreme Court. Campus diversity remains low, critics say.


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