The University announced on July 13 that for the third year in a row it received a record number of applications for undergraduate admission. A pool of 29,939 prospective freshmen applied for the 2009-2010 academic year — an increase of 133 from the previous year.
From this pool of applicants, 14,918 were admitted to the Ann Arbor campus as of June 8, 2009. But of those admitted, only 43.2 percent sent in enrollment deposits, as compared to the 48.2 percent who did so at this time last year.
Based on trends from previous years regarding the percentage of applicants who send in deposits and ultimately enroll, the University projects that the incoming class of 2013 will consist of around 5,900 students — an increase from the class of 2012 of about 200 students.
University Provost Teresa Sullivan said in an interview in May that the University did not know what to expect regarding enrollment numbers due to the unstable economy.
“This has been a very hard year to predict because there’s so much financial insecurity,” she said.
Sullivan said the University accepted more students than planned to make up for “summer melt” — when students pay enrollment deposits but do not attend the University in the fall.
“After talking with people at other universities we think that we will have more summer melt than usual this year,” she said.
Sullivan said one reason for summer melt is that students on a waitlist for another school will sometimes attend that institution if they’re admitted during the summer, thereby causing the University’s class size to shrink.
“So what we actually think is that we’ll have the same size class next fall that we had last fall, but we had to admit more students to get to it,” she said.
According to Ted Spencer, associate vice provost and executive director of the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, this year’s decrease in yield — the percentage of applicants offered admission that send in deposits — is not unique to the University. Many colleges and universities across the nation are seeing similar trends, possibly in light of the economy.
“The Office of Financial Aid also is working very hard, in response to the current economy, to get financial aid dollars into the hands of students and their families who need them, and to meet the full demonstrated financial need of all in-state students who are offered admission,” Spencer said.
The budget passed by the University Board of Regents for the 2009-2010 academic year includes the largest increase in financial aid to date.
Pamela Fowler, executive director of the Office of Financial Aid, wrote in a University Record article published last week that in a year when more students have applied to the University than ever but yield has decreased, the University is trying to provide an affordable education to its many qualified applicants.
“The university’s 2009-10 general fund budget includes $118 million dollars in centrally funded financial aid, a $10 million-dollar increase over last year,” Fowler wrote. “This includes $73.7 million, an 11.7-percent rise, in centrally awarded financial aid available to undergraduate students. We are doing everything we can to put those dollars in the hands of students and their families who need it.”
Fowler wrote in an e-mail interview July 13 that the increase in financial aid available to undergraduate students yields a maximum amount of $1,700 in grant aid that an individual student may receive for 2009-2010, which exceeds the increase in tuition and housing for incoming freshmen by approximately $600.
In addition, Fowler wrote that the University is adjusting financial aid packages to include more students from families that have been adversely affected by the economic crisis by increasing the number of students eligible for Pell Grant awards by 3 percent and increasing the number of students eligible for University institutional grant funds by 12 percent.
According to Lester Monts, senior vice provost of academic affairs, the University administration is also ensuring the most qualified applicants from this year’s large pool will be able to afford to come to the University.
“The interest of so many highly qualified applicants continues to be gratifying to the University community,” Monts wrote in the University Record article. “Equally important is the compelling need to be sure the University of Michigan is financially accessible.
“We have aggressively raised substantial contributions from alumni and friends to support financial aid. This has allowed us to consistently increase student aid to unprecedented levels, well above any rises in tuition. And we have a longstanding commitment to meet the full demonstrated financial need of students who are residents of the state of Michigan.”
This year the University saw an increase in applicants from within Michigan. According to Spencer, 63 percent of all prospective freshmen who applied were Michigan residents — up from 59 percent last year.
“We did see an increased number of applications from Michigan-resident students, and proportionally more in-state students have been offered admission this year (63 percent) over last year (59 percent),” Spencer wrote in an e-mail interview. “At the same time, we received fewer applications from non-residents.”
Spencer wrote that the University doesn’t know whether or not the economy played a role in students’ enrollment decisions.
“The degree to which the economy may have been a factor in the student’s decision to attend college is yet to be determined,” he said. “At this point, we do not have enough trend data to make an accurate assumption.”
Spencer also wrote that the University tries to set the undergraduate population at 26,000 students, which is another factor that determines the size of incoming classes.
This year marks the second admissions cycle since the passage of Proposal 2, a 2006 ballot initiative that prohibited race and gender from being considered in admissions decisions. The number of applications from women rose to 14,628 this year, an increase of 71 from the last cycle. Of all female applicants admitted, 3,218 paid the enrollment deposit — an increase of 164 compared to last year.
The number of applications from underrepresented minorities — interpreted as African Americans, Hispanic Americans and Native Americans — also increased this year. Of the 2,879 underrepresented minority applicants — up 100 from last year — 1,422 were offered admission, which is an increase of 102 from the previous year. But despite the increase in offers of admission, the yield has decreased, following the overall trend. So far, the University has received 580 deposits from underrepresented minority applicants as opposed to 638 at this time last year.
Spencer wrote that University administrators strive to maintain enrollment numbers by encouraging admitted students to attend the University.
“We proactively reach out to admitted students to encourage them to choose Michigan and, ultimately, enroll in classes by Fall Term,” Spencer said. “President Mary Sue Coleman, some members of her leadership team, University staff, faculty, current students, alumni and friends of the University all join this effort every year.”
— Daily News Editors Jasmine Zhu and Stephanie Steinberg contributed to this report.