U-M to test new way to reach high-achieving, low-income students


In a pilot program launching this fall, the University of Michigan will test a new approach to connecting with high-achieving, low-income students across the state — with the goal of enrolling more of them on the Ann Arbor campus.

The new approach involves developing a unique package of admissions information, including a step-by-step guide for applying to U-M, and vouchers providing free access to key portions of the application process.

 For those students who apply and are admitted to U-M, the payoff is huge: A HAIL (High Achieving Involved Leader) scholarship that provides four years of free tuition and required fees — a $60,000 value. Students will likely be eligible for further financial aid to cover other costs such as housing and textbooks.

By removing the financial barriers to enroll at U-M, students will have access to an institution committed to ensuring their success. U-M’s Ann Arbor campus has a state’s-best 97-percent freshman retention rate and a 91-percent graduation rate.

The new materials will be offered to a cohort of high-achieving, low-income Michigan high school seniors in each of the next two years. Students will be selected for the HAIL initiative based on their financial need and early indications of their likelihood to be competitive in the admissions process. The students must apply and be admitted to receive the scholarship.

 The university developed the pilot program in collaboration with Susan Dynarski, professor of education, public policy and economics, who studies inequality in education and the optimal design for college financial aid.

“There is lots of research indicating high-achieving, low-income students do not apply to selective colleges at the same rate as their higher-income peers,” said Kedra Ishop, associate vice president for enrollment management.

“Despite our best efforts, one of the reasons is a lack of information, especially about costs. So we decided to develop a new approach to sharing this important information, try it for two years and measure the outcome.”

Students who receive the information packet will be drawn from 259 public high schools throughout the state — urban, rural and suburban — that represent the diversity of Michigan. Students will be mailed a package of information and their parents or guardians will receive a separate letter detailing the outreach effort. High school principals and counselors at the participating schools also will be informed about the program.

Students will be asked to make an immediate connection to U-M by registering on a personalized website to obtain a free U-M t-shirt. That connection will allow the Office of Undergraduate Admissions to keep in touch throughout the normal admission process.

“We want these high-achieving students to know we look forward to assisting with their application submission and supporting them throughout the admissions and enrollment process,” said Erica Sanders, interim director of undergraduate admissions.

 U-M’s commitment to access for economically disadvantaged students is not new, but the outreach is changing. 

“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,” said Pam Fowler, director of financial aid. “HAIL is an important new way to get the attention of families and make them aware of what is available to them at Michigan.”



  1. Juan Jose Martinez
    on October 3, 2015 at 6:27 pm

    Thank you University of Michigan for making this important outreach effort. I’m at Cesar Chavez High School in Detroit and we stand ready to do our part to achieve the desired results. Vamos Azul

  2. Marie Brady
    on October 6, 2015 at 12:33 pm

    I think that this is a wonderful opportunity for hardworking students to know that their efforts are not in vain, that they can succeed, and that there are individuals who are working on behalf of their interests. I hope that this program sets the precedent for all other institutions to go beyond quotas.

  3. Lisa Ray
    on December 23, 2015 at 1:39 am

    Thank you, U of M!! My daughter was just accepted to U of M and given this scholarship. There is no other way she would have been able to attend. We are all so excited about this opportunity you are giving her. We just have to figure out how to cover housing, meals, and textbooks now. Still, this is an amazing opportunity!

    • Alexis Barker
      on January 4, 2016 at 11:22 am

      Congratulations to your daughter! I also got accepted to U of M and received the scholarship offer. I was wondering if the scholarship was on her acceptance and do you know what further actions to take to accept the scholarship?

  4. Brian Werty
    on October 29, 2016 at 1:07 pm

    I come from a low income family and my GPA and test scores are considerably high. However, I did not receive the letter or information for the HAIL scholarship. Is there still a chance that I can get the HAIL scholarship if I am accepted into University of Michigan?

  5. jessica a. rickert, dds
    on November 12, 2016 at 12:14 pm

    Can you share this excellent resource with any& all you think could benefit?

    Tribal Role Model Series
    The National Institutes of Health’s Role Model series is beautifully done, and would benefit any student, although it is geared toward American Indians. There is a section on dentistry, which you can quickly access by clicking on my name.

  6. Moore Lauren
    on November 28, 2016 at 11:57 am

    Is the HAIL Program available to transfer students?

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