It just got a little harder for Latinos to get into the University of Texas at Austin.

The Houston Chronicle reported this week that U.T.-Austin will only admit the top 7 percent of the high school graduating class, raising the bar for the highest graded students to enter the flagship university through the state’s non-race-based affirmative action policy.

A Texas law passed in 1997 required public universities to automatically admit the top 10 percent of high school seniors, but the law was reformed in 2009 to give universities more flexibility. Since then, U.T.-Austin has restricted the percentage of top-scoring students it automatically lets in to avoid losing the power to select students by other criteria. Last year, U.T.-Austin automatically admitted the top 9 percent of the graduating class and the top 8 percent the year before that.

The Top 10 Percent law emerged as a way to boost minority admissions after the Supreme Court overturned the use of racial quotas in its 1996 decision on Hopwood v. Texas. (A later decision revised the ruling, making it legal to use race as one of several factors to determine college admissions.)

To get around the problem, Irma Rangel -- the first Mexican-American woman elected to the Texas legislature -- pushed for the passage of the Top 10 Percent law. In a state where the school system is as segregated as in Texas, the Top 10 Percent law ensured that admissions for Latinos would rise.

And they did. Of the 5,432 students admitted to U.T.-Austin last year under the Top 10 Percent law, 29 percent were Latino. By contrast, only 13 percent of the 2,660 non-top 10 percenters were Latino. Total admissions for Hispanics have jumped from 14 percent in 1996 to 24 percent last academic year.

But the law also created a bottleneck for Texas, where a large chunk of top 10 percenters covet a limited amount of spots at just two schools -- the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A & M.

Three out of four in-state students are admitted to U.T.-Austin under the Top 10 Percent law. The school selects the remaining applicants based on a review of several factors, including race.

A white, non-Hispanic student is challenging the inclusion of race as a factor in admissions, saying she suffered discrimination when U.T.-Austin rejected her application in 2008. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Abigail Fisher’s case this month.

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  • Protesters hold up a Chicano activist flag against a backdrop of the US/Mexico border fence behind which is Tijuana, Mexico and a giant Mexican flag as they demonstrate against the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), April 21, 2001 at San Ysidro, CA. (Photo by David McNew/Newsmakers)

  • A display on Chicano music is part of a special exhibition called 'Songs of Conscience, Sounds of Freedom,' which explores the history of music and politics in America, at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles on December 2, 2008, press preview day. The Grammy Museum will celebrate its grand opening with a slate of activities from December 3 - 6. AFP PHOTO / Robyn BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

  • In a Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2011 photo, artists are shown in an image titled "Asco '82," at a reception for the opening of "Asco: "Elite of the Obscure, A Retrosective 1972-1987," which highlights the conceptual and performance art of the Chicano collective Asco, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The exhibit runs at LACMA from Sept. 4 to Dec. 4, 2011. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

  • In a Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2011 photo, artist Gronk is seen with one of his works, an untitled mixed-media piece from circa 1978, at a reception for the opening of "Asco: "Elite of the Obscure, A Retrosective 1972-1987," which highlights the conceptual and performance art of the Chicano collective Asco, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The exhibit runs at LACMA from Sept. 4 to Dec. 4, 2011. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

  • SAN DIEGO - APRIL 22: Mikayla Nash, 6, prepares to go onstage during a ballet folklorico performance at the Chicano Park Heritage Festival April 22, 2006 in San Diego, California. The festival is put on annually to celebrate San Diego's rich Chicano culture and features Mexican dance performances, low rider displays, food and more. (Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO - APRIL 22: Onlookers check out a 1964 Chevrolet which was made into a low rider vehicle, at the Chicano Park Heritage Festival April 22, 2006 in San Diego, California. The festival is put on annually to celebrate San Diego's rich Chicano culture and features Mexican dance performances, low rider displays, food and more. (Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)

  • In a Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2011 photo, a woman looks at a panoramic image of the members of Asco posing on a bridge in East Los Angeles in the 1980s, at a reception for the opening of "Asco: "Elite of the Obscure, A Retrosective 1972-1987," which highlights the conceptual and performance art of the Chicano collective Asco, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The exhibit runs at LACMA from Sept. 4 to Dec. 4, 2011. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

  • LOS ANGELES - SEPTEMBER 24: Actor/art collector/author Cheech Marin during book signing for his new book entitled 'Chicano Vision: American Painters On The Edge' at Barnes and Noble Bookstore at The Grove on September 24, 2002 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO - APRIL 22: Artist Jason Hailey spray paints an image onto a mirror during the Chicano Park Heritage Festival April 22, 2006 in San Diego, California. The festival is put on annually to celebrate San Diego's rich Chicano culture and features Mexican dance performances, low rider displays, food and more. (Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)

  • In this photo taken Monday, Sept. 12, 2011, writer and activist Luis J. Rodriguez holds a photo his late aunt Tia Chucha, at his independent bookstore and community center named after her in Los Angeles. His 1993 book "Always Running, La Vida Loca: Gang Days in L.A." turned Rodriguez, then a struggling poet with a drinking problem, into one of America's pre-eminent Chicano writers. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

  • San Diego, UNITED STATES: A mural depicting Chicano issues is painted on an underpass at the 5 freeway 29 January 2006 in San Diego, CA. It is estimated that some 6.3 million illegal immigrants from Mexico live in the US, with some 485,000 undocumented immigrants entering the territory every year, in figures provided by the Pew Hispanic Center. Services oriented to immigrants from both sides of the border are increasing as the demographics of people crossing the border becomes more sophisticated. More wealthy middle-class border-crossers are affecting local economies, purchasing houses, cars and other goods. According to recent news reports, an increasing number of US senior citizens cross the border daily into Mexico to purchase prescription drugs, getting up to 75 percent in savings. HECTOR MATA/AFP/Getty Images

  • SAN DIEGO - APRIL 22: Guillermo Rosette, a dancer with Toltecas en Aztlan(CQ) dance group, blows into a conch shell during a dance performance at the Chicano Park Heritage Festival April 22, 2006 in San Diego, California. The festival is put on annually to celebrate San Diego's rich Chicano culture and features Mexican dance performances, low rider displays, food and more. (Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)

  • This March 26, 2012 photo shows a Harmony Sovereign acoustic guitar with a Jesus sticker among other items from Chicano musician Little Willie G, aka Willie Garcia, founding member of Thee Midniters in the 1960s, at the exhibit, "Trouble In Paradise: Music and Los Angeles, 1945-1975," at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles. The museum website says the exhibit focuses on the "tensions between alluring myths of Southern California paradise and the realities of social struggle that characterized the years following WWII." (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)