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Enrollment breaks record for fifth year

By Jennifer Calfas, Daily Staff Reporter
Published October 16, 2013

With 43,710 students registered for fall 2013, enrollment at the University has set an all-time record for the fifth consecutive year, according to the Office of the Registrar. The total number of students increased by 284 students — 0.7 percent — from the 2012 total.

Setting a record for the seventh consecutive year, applicants for this fall’s entering class reached 46,814, a 10 percent increase from Fall 2012. Of those applicants, the University accepted 15,570 — 19 more than in 2012 — with a 33 percent acceptance rate, more competitive than last year’s 36 percent acceptance rate.

While enrollment increased overall, membership across various parts of the University varied. Undergraduate enrollment grew by 1.1 percent to 28,283 students. The freshman class outnumbers the 2012 class by 54 students with 6,225 students. The number of graduate and professional students is 15,427, a 0.1 percent change from the previous year.

For the first time in 10 years, the freshman class consists of a 51.6-percent majority of women. Men constitute 48.3 percent of the class, or 3,035 students.

Lester Monts, senior vice provost for academic affairs, said in a statement that he was impressed with the “rising caliber” of this year’s freshman class.

The University also holds a 97-percent retention rate for freshmen and a 91 percent six-year graduation rate, which is 33 percentage points above the national average for four-year institutions.

Using a new federal demographic classification for the past four years, the University has been able to track data on race and ethnicity. Under these guidelines, the number of underrepresented minority freshmen — which include African American, Hispanic American, Native American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander students — saw a slight increase 10.6 percent this year, 0.6 percent more than last year.

For the total number of students enrolled, students who identify as white represent the majority, with 27,399 students, or 72.6 percent.

The next largest represented groups in University data were Asian Americans, African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans and Pacific Islanders, representing 15.3 percent, 6 percent, 5 percent, 1.2 percent and 0.3 percent of the total number students, respectively.

Enrollment data came out a day after the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday in Schuette vs. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, another chapter in the state’s affirmative action policy. The University said diversity remains a priority despite the state’s ban on the race- and gender-conscious admission processes.

Ted Spencer, associate vice provost and executive director of undergraduate admissions, said the admissions process analyses how students will contribute to and preserve the University community. The University takes a “holistic approach” when considering applicants, taking into account test scores, high-school grade-point average, leadership and application essays.

“We want to hear their voice,” Spencer said. “We’re looking for a story, not a paper.”

Over the past few years, Spencer said each class has improved from the last. He added that although he says it at every freshman convocation each year, this year’s class “is, once again, the strongest class admitted to the University of Michigan overall.”

Spencer said the state’s affirmative action ban put restrictions on how admissions can ensure they select a diverse class, but the University has made efforts to let students around the country know that the school is open to their applications.

“Racial and ethnic diversity is very important to us,” Spencer said. “Due to the ban, we have not been able to continue to grow, but we’ve been doing everything we can across the country to say that the University is identifying students of all backgrounds and doing the best we can to let them know Michigan welcomes them and can provide a good education.”

Spencer added that the University understands that a diverse environment allows students to learn better, as it reflects more of a real-life situation.

LSA junior Sarah Ballew, co-chair of the Native American Student Association, said she was unimpressed with the slight increase in minority student enrollment this year. Although affirmative action is banned, Ballew said the University should reach out more to minority groups, as Spencer says they try to do.

“Coming to such a prominent University, diversity is so important because you really need to have the perspectives of many different people,” Ballew said. “It creates an enriched student life curriculum, and what it really boils down to is having representation and having minorities in the academic setting helps learning.”

As tuition rates increase each year in part due to dwindling state appropriation, the number of non-resident students enrolled has gone up as well.

Overall, the University hosts 21,947 in-state students, 15,704 out-of-state students and 6,059 international students, approximately 50 percent, 36 percent and 14 percent respectively.

For the 2012-2013 academic year, there was a total of 43,426 students enrolled: 51 percent in-state, 35 percent out-of-state and 14 percent international students.

This year, non-resident underclassmen spend an average of $53,490 per year at the University for all cost of attendance expenses, while lower division resident students pay $26,240 each year. While the University ensures full need-based financial aid is met for residents, University Provost Martha Pollack said in March that the University hopes to eventually meet full need-based financial aid for non-resident students as well.

This aid will be supplemented by a record amount of financial aid from the University, which is dedicating $161.2 million for undergraduate and graduate need-based financial aid, and increase of $16.4 million from last year. The University’s upcoming capital campaign — set to launch Nov. 8 — has a $1-billion goal for student support to be raised over the next few years.

As housing renovations continue with South Quad and, next year, West Quad, University Housing works closely with the Office of Admissions to ensure that each freshman has guaranteed housing.

University Housing spokesman Peter Logan said the housing renovations have challenged University housing to get creative with their layouts pending the growing student body. To accommodate freshmen, the housing staff bases the number of spaces to make available for freshmen off of projections made by the Office of Admissions.

With renovations underway, the housing staff has converted former common study spaces into bedrooms that can fit two to four students and has made Northwood III apartments a “first-year living community” — meaning a residence reserved solely for freshman.

This year, 5,330 freshmen, 2,643 sophomores, 878 juniors, 466 seniors and 1,270 graduate students live in University housing.

Correction Appended: A previous version of this article misstated the per-year cost of attendance for non-resident and resident students.