With diversity in mind, University announces pilot to attract low-income students

The High Achieving Involved Leader scholarship will cover four years of University tuition for high-achieving, low-income applicants.

Saturday, August 29, 2015 - 10:03am

In advance of a forum next month at which University President Mark Schlissel is slated to provide an update on his administration’s diversity-related initiatives, the University announced a pilot scholarship program designed to attract more high-achieving, low-income Michigan students to campus.

The key component: four years of free tuition covered by the University.

The University will offer participation to a select group of students — based on their financial need and academic promise — who hail from urban, rural and suburban high schools across the state. A two-year pilot, the program will offer specialized resources to help guide students during the application process and waive certain fees associated with applying to the University.

Students who apply and are ultimately admitted through this program will receive scholarship money, too — enough to cover four years of tuition. The High Achieving Involved Leader scholarship is valued at $60,000 and aims to make the University accessible to a more diverse array of Michigan students.

In a press release announcing the program, several University officials noted that one of the greatest barriers low-income students face during the application process is a lack of information, particularly when it comes to costs.

Pam Fowler, the University’s financial aid director, wrote in a press release that HAIL represents the school’s continued efforts to serve low-income families.

"Our financial aid package for low-income students is the best among all colleges and universities in the state, usually covering the full cost of tuition at our Ann Arbor campus,” she wrote. "HAIL is an important new way to get the attention of families and make them aware of what is available to them at Michigan."

University President Mark Schlissel has spoken before about the need for diversifying campus.

In a January interview with The Michigan Daily, Schlissel said the University’s commitment to diversity must be matched by meaningful actions.

“It really is fair to say that there has been a long-term commitment to diversity at the University of Michigan, I think the record is really clear,” he said. “The problem is, our success hasn’t matched our aspirations despite people’s serious efforts and serious commitments.”

In February, Schlissel hosted a diversity breakfast aimed at fostering conversation about diversity at the University. At the breakfast, he said it was important for the University to represent “the public we serve.”