Admission guarantee for students with 3.0 GPA boosts applications to public universities

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Ericka Jackson is Wayne State University’s director of undergraduate admissions.

Wayne State University

Ericka Jackson is Wayne State University’s director of undergraduate admissions.

Capital News Service 

LANSING – Ten public universities are now admitting any in-state students who graduate from high school with a 3.0 GPA or higher. 

The policy, announced in September, has already led to an increase in applications at some campuses.

The initiative, which aims to streamline the application process and boost enrollment, is called the Michigan Assured Admission Pact, or MAAP.

Wayne State University has seen a 14% increase in applications from seniors applying for fall 2024 admission, according to Director of Undergraduate Admissions Ericka Jackson. 

“Part of that is attributable to the MAAP program because students don’t need to complete other aspects that we were asking for last year,” Jackson said. 

In the past, Wayne State applicants had to submit a recommendation letter, which Jackson said could be difficult for some students in Detroit Public Schools, given the high student-to-counselor ratio there.

“It’s harder for those students to get individualized letters of recommendation because their counselors are serving 400 students, as opposed to a smaller school or a private school,” Jackson said. 

Wayne State was eager to join MAAP, Jackson said, because accessibility has been a central goal of the school for decades.

“We are making decisions based on the likelihood of a student’s success at our institution,” Jackson said. “We don’t have a cap on how many students we’re going to admit each year.”

“We want to make sure that higher education is accessible and equitable and affordable,” she said, “so that’s definitely a different enrollment approach.”

To promote the new admissions standard, Jackson said Wayne State is reaching out to prospective students via email and encouraging school counselors in the Detroit area to inform their students. 

She also said Wayne State has publicized the MAAP on Facebook to grab the attention of parents of prospective students. 

“Parents are one of the number-one influencers for students in their college decision-making,” Jackson said.

Oakland University is also seeing an increase in applications this year, according to Director of Undergraduate Admissions Shane Lewis. 

“I think there are students who have applied to us who may not have otherwise if they did not hear about MAAP,” Lewis said. 

Lewis said Oakland’s previous minimum GPA requirement was already close to 3.0, so the university hasn’t lowered its standards for applicants. 

He said that was the case for all 10 participating institutions. The others are Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Northern Michigan, University of Michigan-Flint, University of Michigan-Dearborn, Saginaw Valley State, Lake Superior State, and Ferris State. 

The five universities that haven’t joined the program are the University of Michigan, Michigan State, Grand Valley State, Western Michigan and Michigan Technological University.

Lewis said the non-participating schools have been involved in conversations about increasing accessibility and affordability, but couldn’t commit to the 3.0 GPA admission guarantee because of their competitive programs. He cited Michigan Tech’s engineering program as an example. 

Lewis said he appreciates the program because he was a first-generation college student and recognizes some students have obstacles to applying to colleges.

“The benefit of a program like this was to try to break down the barriers of higher education for students who are not at all familiar with this process,” he said. “We’re helping instill some confidence in students so they can envision themselves completing this degree.”

Mia Murphy, the chief policy officer of the Michigan Association of State Universities, helped spearhead the initiative. 

She said she pushed for MAAP, in part, because it lessens the importance of standardized tests in admissions. 

“The high school GPA shows your success over a sustained amount of time, whereas a standardized test is a snapshot,” Murphy said. 

She said public universities in Michigan largely turned to a test-optional application process following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. That made standardized test scores optional for applicants. 

Erickson said 49% of Wayne State’s applicants for fall 2024 chose not to submit their SAT or ACT exam scores. 

MAAP isn’t the only new initiative aimed at boosting enrollment and increasing accessibility at public universities. 

Murphy said the association is also promoting the Michigan Achievement Scholarship, which awards up to $5,500 annually to students who received a high school diploma and attend a public university. To qualify, students must have an expected family contribution to college expenses of less than $25,000.

That determination is made using data collected when students fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. Students must complete the FAFSA to qualify.

With bipartisan votes, the Legislature created the scholarship program in 2022 as part of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s goal of increasing the number of working-age adults with a skills certificate or college degree to 60% by 2030.

Murphy also said she expects a statewide campaign promoting completion of the FAFSA to begin in March. 

Daniel Hurley, the association’s chief executive officer, said he’s pleased with the administration’s commitment to boosting enrollment.

“I’ve gone from singing a hymn of dismal state (financial) support for 20 years to now saying, ‘We’re the state to watch,’” Hurley said.

Shane Lewis is the director of undergraduate admissions at Oakland University.

Oakland University

Shane Lewis is the director of undergraduate admissions at Oakland University.

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