Feb 19, 2011

Which Virginia Colleges Enroll the Most Out-of-State Students?

This is a trick question. Or at least the answer isn’t intuitive.

Ask most local parents which of the Commonwealth’s public institutions enrolled the highest percentage of out-of-state students in the fall of 2010, and the answer will inevitably be, “UVa.”

But according to the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV), the University of Virginia was not guilty of enrolling the highest percentage of students from outside the state. The Virginia Military Institute (VMI) holds that distinction this year, posting 40.2 percent out-of-state students. UVa came in second at 33.5 percent, and the College of William & Mary came in a very close third at 33.3 percent.

Looking at numbers instead of percentages, Virginia Tech enrolled the most nonresidents in the fall of 2010 with 6198 students coming from other states. Once again, UVa came in second with 5225 out-of-state students, and James Madison University came in third with 5022 students from outside of Virginia.

In total, Virginia public institutions enrolled 161,417 students with 18.5 (or 29,919) coming from other states, no doubt to take advantage of Virginia’s reputation for excellence in postsecondary education.

In fact, four Virginia public institutions (UVa, College of William & Mary, University of Mary Washington, and James Madison University) are among the top ten public colleges and universities with the best four-year graduation rates in the country based on data generated using a search tool provided on the IPEDS website.

While the state legislature engages in a perennial battle with UVa and William & Mary over perceived slights to tax paying in-state students, it’s interesting to look at which of Virginia’s public institutions are actually most friendly to out-of state students:


  1. I believe it is beneficial for students to study with students from other parts of the country. I took a quick look at a few private colleges in Virginia, and these have a high percentage of out-of-state students.

    Washington and Lee - 82%
    University of Richmond - 76%
    Roanoke - 54%
    Hollins - 51%

    I'm sure there are others. I think it is a credit to these institutions that they are able to attract more than half of their students from out of state.

  2. Here's a couple more:

    Liberty - 61% out of state.
    Sweet Briar -- 55% out of state.

  3. You make an interesting point except you have to remember the "mission" of public institutions to educate state residents. Private colleges and universities don't have this constraint or obligation.

    Thanks for commenting.