More than three years after Michigan voters passed Proposal 2 outlawing affirmative action in state institutions, the U-M is feeling its effects: just 8.2 percent of 2009’s freshman identify themselves as African American or Hispanic, down from 9.9 percent in 2008. Paradoxically, the university admitted more minority students in 2009–but fewer chose to enroll. Admissions officials say that’s because Prop 2 forced the university to stop offering several hundred scholarships that were based in part, if not exclusively, on race or ethnicity. That’s made it hard for Michigan to compete with Ivy League schools, which offer the most highly sought minority candidates all-expense-paid “free rides.”
While coveted minority students may be trading up, other students are trading down. Though applications barely rose last year, the U-M admitted a whopping 19 percent more students, anticipating that financial pressures would steer many toward less expensive universities or community colleges or toward forgoing college altogether. They were right: the number who actually enrolled grew only 5 percent–still enough to set an all-time record of 6,079 students in the Class of 2013. With hard times continuing, officials again are pumping up admissions to the Class of 2014.