Getting into the University of Texas at Austin just got even harder. 

Texas students who apply to UT-Austin for the fall 2017 semester will need to be in the top 7 percent of their high school class to gain automatic admission. That's a little tougher than the threshold for students entering in 2016, who only need to be in the top 8 percent. 

UT-Austin President Greg Fenves notified key lawmakers and the Texas Education Agency of the change this month. The news was shared with school administrators Tuesday. 

The automatic admissions route for Texas students has been available since 1996, when lawmakers passed what is known as the top 10 percent rule. The rule aims to increase diversity at Texas universities: High schools are largely segregated, so providing automatic admission for the top of each class gives more opportunities to minority students, supporters of the rule say.

The Texas Tribune thanks its sponsors. Become one.

The rule is deeply unpopular in suburban areas, where competition is stiffer to be among the top high school graduates, and some who would otherwise be qualified to get into UT-Austin are crowded out. 

UT-Austin is the only school in the state with a partial exemption to the rule, since so many students began applying under the rule that it threatened to take away all of the school's admissions leeway. In 2009, the Legislature capped automatic admits at 75 percent of the incoming class, with the rest of the freshmen admitted through a holistic process. 

The cutoff for each year — whether it's 10 percent or 7 percent — is calculated based on the prior year's applicant pool.  

Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin is a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.