Increasing Economic Diversity at a Flagship University

Research shows that low-income students face unique barriers to applying to colleges. The HAIL (High Achieving Involved Leader) study at the University of Michigan (U-M) explored whether providing an early, four-year guarantee of free tuition and fees could influence high-achieving, low-income students’ decisions to apply to a highly-selective university.

Key findings

1. HAIL students were more than twice as likely to apply to the University of Michigan than students who did not receive the HAIL intervention (the control group). Specifically, 68% of HAIL students applied to U-M as compared to 26% of students in the control group, a difference of 42 percentage points.

2. Of HAIL students, 32% applied and were admitted. Of control students, 15% applied and were admitted. In other words, HAIL increased the likelihood of students applying and being admitted by 17 percentage points.

3. 27 percent of HAIL students enrolled at the University of Michigan compared to 12% of students in the control group, a treatment effect of 15 percentage points (which translates roughly to 150 more high-achieving, low-income students from Michigan enrolled at U-M each year).


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