Michigan's three top-tier universities can continue using race and gender in admissions and financial aid awards through the current admission cycle, under an agreement proposed Monday.

A ballot measure passed Nov. 7 bars public universities and governments from using affirmative action in admissions and hiring. The law was to take effect Saturday, but the state and a group seeking to throw out the law agreed to delay it.

The University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University had sought more time to implement some of those changes since they're already accepting new students for admission next fall.

The universities want to complete this year's admissions and financial aid cycles using the same standards that have been in place since the process began earlier this year. Those cycles, which end in May 2007 or later, mostly affect students who would enter college in fall 2007.

U.S. District Judge David Lawson still must approve the delay.

The amendment to the state constitution was prompted by a 2003 U.S. Supreme Court decision that upheld a general affirmative action policy at the University of Michigan's law school but struck down the school's undergraduate admissions formula, which awarded points based on race. Courts have upheld a similar proposal passed in California a decade ago.

A pro-affirmative action group called By Any Means Necessary claims the Michigan law doesn't trump federal civil rights acts and would violate the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who is named as a defendant in the case along with the governing boards of the three universities, opposed the constitutional amendment.