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The Ultimate Guide to Applying to the University of Michigan

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Founded in 1817, twenty years before Michigan Territory became a state, the University of Michigan (U-M, UM, UMich, or U of M) was originally named Catholepistemiad (or University of Michigania). Initially located in Detroit, the university moved to its current home in Ann Arbor in 1837. Today, the university campus spans 584 major buildings across the Ann Arbor campus, two satellite campuses in Flint and Dearborn, and a Center in Detroit.

Students thrive in Ann Arbor, ranked second in Best College Reviews’ list of the 50 Best College Towns in America. That’s no surprise, given the city’s numerous restaurants, bars, museums, and parks, as well as bike paths and trails. Michigan’s football program ranks first in NCAA history in total wins, and fans from across the state flock to see the Michigan Wolverines in action.

U-M is a premier research university, boasting one of the largest collegiate research budgets of all schools within the United States (more than $1 billion), affording students unique opportunities in a variety of areas. Additionally, U-M offers a strong study abroad program, with international programs, internships, community service, and other learning experiences in more than 100 countries around the world.


Want to learn what University of Michigan will actually cost you based on your income? And how long your application to the school should take? Here’s what every student considering University of Michigan needs to know.



Prospective undergraduates may apply to one of seven schools within the university: Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA); Engineering, Architecture and Urban Planning; Art & Design; Kinesiology; Music, Theatre, & Dance; and Nursing. Additionally, Architecture and Urban Planning, Business, Education, Social Work, Information, and Pharmacy offer Freshman Preferred Admission, meaning students who re accepted into the programs are guaranteed placement in their sophomore or junior years. Students in their freshman or sophomore years may also apply to Architecture and Urban Planning, Business, Dental Hygiene, Education, Information, Pharmacy, Public Health, and Public Policy to transfer into the upper-level admitting units.

Popular majors across these schools include Business Administration, Economics, Psychology, and Political Science.

Tuition and Financial Aid

U-M ranks fifth in Kiplinger’s ranking of Best Public College Values, with about two out of three undergraduates receiving financial aid. The estimated cost of tuition and fees is $14,402 for in-state freshmen and sophomores, $16,218 for in-state juniors and seniors, $45,410 for out-of-state freshmen and sophomores, and $48,598 for out-of-state juniors and seniors for the 2016-2017 school year. Additionally, room and board costs an estimated $10,872, and books and supplies cost an estimated $1,048 (there is no distinction for in and out of state residents for these costs). Prospective students may estimate their Michigan costs using the Net Price Calculator.

Applicants must submit their FAFSA and CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE as soon as possible after October 1st and no later than April 30th to be considered for financial aid.

Applying to the University of Michigan

With an acceptance rate of 28.6%, the competition to attend U-M is fierce.

Along with the Common Application and U-M supplement, candidates should submit their high school transcript and student report (supplied by your guidance counselor), one teacher evaluation, the SAT or ACT with the writing section, and a $75 application fee or fee waiver. Non-native speakers of English should also submit TOEFL, MELAB, or IELTS scores. You are strongly encouraged to submit a Counselor recommendation. U-M requests that you do not submit any extra documents unless specifically requested (see below), since doing so will delay your decision.

There are some additional materials required for students applying to select colleges. Applicants to the College of Architecture and Urban Planning should submit a portfolio and design assignment via SlideRoom. Click here for details on what to include in the portfolio. Students applying to the School of Art and Design should also send a portfolio. You will receive a link to SlideRoom when you complete the Common Application. Keep in mind that 50% of your admissions decision is based on your portfolio for this school. Finally, the School of Music, Theatre & Dance require a DecisionDesk Profile showcasing your artistic preparation. Click here for more details on this profile.

Home-schooled students are encouraged to submit SAT subject test scores, AP scores, or grades from an accredited secondary or post-secondary institution in the academic subjects required for admission. LSA applicants are encouraged to submit test scores or graded work in natural science, social studies, or foreign language subjects, and Engineering applicants are encouraged to submit tests scores or graded work in calculus, chemistry, and physics. The School of Music, Theatre & Dance requires applicants to submit records of school progress and results from at least two SAT subject exams and the SAT I writing test. AP scores and official transcripts for dual enrollment work completed at an accredited college or university may be substituted for subject tests.

U-M offers a non-binding Early Action program for freshman applicants only. You must apply by November 1st for this program, and will receive your admission decision by December 24th. Students may be admitted, denied, or deferred for a final decision with the Regular Decision pool. The School of Music, Theatre and Dance and the College of Architecture are exempt from the decision date because of the audition/interview and portfolio evaluation processes.

Regular Decision applicants must apply by February 1st and will be notified of their admission decisions by early April. This is also the deadline for Spring and Summer Half Terms; the Winter Term Application deadline is October 1st. The application deadline for the School of Music, Theatre & Dance is December 1st.

With some limitations, students may apply to multiple schools within U-M simultaneously in order to engage in dual-degree programs. Click here for a chart detailing possible combinations.

Admitted students at freshman-level schools may apply for Preferred Admission at an Upper-level admitting unit, including the School of Education, the College of Pharmacy, the School of Social Work, the College of Architecture and Urban Planning, the School of Information, and the School of Business. If accepted, students will later transfer to the Upper-level unit.

Particularly driven students may apply to the Honors Program once they have been accepted to the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. This program gives them the opportunity to study specifically developed Honors courses covering a multitude of topics, from human perception to transatlantic slave trade, and to attend Honors Events and other activities. There is an additional application for prospective Honors students.

University of Michigan Application Supplement

The University of Michigan supplement has six sections: General, Academics, Contacts, Family, Residency, and Writing.



First, you will select your preferred start term and admission plan (Regular Decision or Early Action). U-M has four start terms: Fall 2017 (September-December), Winter 2017 (January-May), Spring 2017 (May-June), and Summer 2017 (June-August).


Next, you will be asked if you intend to use a college-specific fee waiver. The fee waiver circumstances options include family situation, previously applied to U-M Dearborn, previously applied to U-M Flint, or other. If you select other, you will be prompted to provide your fee waiver program.

You may also provide optional information, including your family’s gross income for 2016, how many people depend on your family’s income, and if you have ever been in foster care. Your admission decision will not be affected by your answers to these questions.

You may choose whether or not you authorize the release of your academic, demographic, and financial information on file with the University to alumni clubs and other organizations that may consider you for scholarships.

You are required to respond to the following question (yes or no):

Is any felony charge, or allegation of academic or disciplinary misconduct at any secondary school, college or university, currently pending against you?

Please know that any prior or pending disciplinary and/or criminal history does not automatically disqualify you for admission.

Note: You have an ongoing responsibility to inform the Office of Undergraduate Admissions immediately of any changes to your disciplinary and/or criminal history until you start classes. Failure to report prior or pending disciplinary and/or criminal history may result in the withdrawal of your application or revocation of your admission.



In this section, you will indicate to which school(s) you are applying. You will then be prompted to indicate your intended program of study and area(s) of interest. You may also indicate that you are applying for dual degree programs. If you are applying to LSA, you will be asked if you intend to apply for Preferred Admission, and if so to what school. You will not be asked for an area of interest if you are applying to SMTD, but you will be asked if you are applying to multiple programs within the school.



Here, you will be asked if you have previously applied to the Ann Arbor campus at University of Michigan. You will also be asked how you learned about U-M, and may provide up to ten reasons in order of influence. You do not need to provide all ten reasons, but should provide at least one or two. You will also be asked to provide a cell phone number if you wish to be contacted via text message.



Next, you will be asked for some information regarding your family members’ relationships with the University of Michigan, including any siblings who are also applying this year, family members who have attended U-M, and family members who have worked for U-M. In you answer yes to the first question, you will be asked for your sibling’s name and relationship to you. If you answer yes to the second question, you will be asked if the family member is a grandparent, and if so his or her name and number of degrees awarded. If you respond yes to the final question, you will be asked if the family member is a parent, step-parent, grandparent, or sibling, and if so their names, relationships, titles, and departments or affiliation. You will also be asked if they are currently employed by U-M.



Here, you will be asked if you are a Michigan resident. If you believe you qualify for in-state tuition and any of these circumstances apply, you must file an application for In-State Tuition and be approved before your status will be changed to in-state:


  • You currently live outside of Michigan (for any purpose, including but not limited to education, volunteer activities, travel, employment, etc.)
  • You have attended a high school or college outside of MI
  • You have been employed or domiciled outside of MI in the last 3 years
  • You are not a U.S. citizen or Permanent Resident Alien
  • Your spouse, partner or parent is in MI as a nonresident student, medical resident, fellow or for military assignment or other temp employment
  • You are 24 years of age or younger and a parent lives outside of MI
  • You previously attended any U-M campus (Ann Arbor, Dearborn, or Flint) as a nonresident


If you indicate that you are a Michigan resident, you will be asked since what date you have lived there.



The writing section has one short answer and two essays.

The short answer prompt is as follows:

If you could only do one of the activities you have listed in the Activities section of your Common Application, which one would you keep doing? Why? (Required for all applicants. Approximately 100 words)

While you will have the opportunity to list and describe ten activities in the Activities section of the Common Application, this space affords you the opportunity to identify an activity that is particularly important to you. This helps U-M understand what kind of student you will be outside of class when you are in college. Be concise, but make sure your enthusiasm for the activity comes through.

Essay #1 (Required for all applicants. Approximately 250 words)

Everyone belongs to many different communities and/or groups defined by (among other things) shared geography, religion, ethnicity, income, cuisine, interest, race, ideology, or intellectual heritage. Choose one of the communities to which you belong, and describe that community and your place within it.

Essay #2 (Required for all applicants. 500 words maximum)

Describe the unique qualities that attract you to the specific undergraduate College or School (including preferred admission and dual degree programs) to which you are applying at the University of Michigan. How would that curriculum support your interests?

These essays help U-M understand who you are as a person and how you will contribute to the school. The admissions committee also wants to know why you have chosen your particular niche, and how the school will help you excel. Check out our “How to Write the University of Michigan Essay 2016-17” post for more tips on how to respond to these prompts.

While the application process may seem daunting, with these tips in mind you should be well on your way to crafting a stellar University of Michigan application!


Curious about your chances of acceptance to your dream school? Our free chancing engine takes into account your GPA, test scores, extracurriculars, and other data to predict your odds of acceptance at over 500 colleges across the U.S. We’ll also let you know how you stack up against other applicants and how you can improve your profile. Sign up for your free CollegeVine account today to get started!

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Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab mix Hercules. She specializes in education, technology and career development. She also writes satire and humor, which has appeared in Slackjaw, Points in Case, Little Old Lady Comedy, Jane Austen’s Wastebasket, and Funny-ish. View her work and get in touch at: www.lauraberlinskyschine.com.