May 5, 2014

Public colleges where out-of-state students rule

The University of Delaware

It’s no secret that public colleges and universities are increasingly recruiting undergrads from out-of-state.  Not only are these schools hoping to make up for declining populations of in-state high school graduates, but the lure of nonresident tuition dollars is all but irresistible.

While some state legislatures actively discourage their flagship institutions from loading their classes with students crossing state lines, others are more than happy to have nonresidents make up for decreasing appropriations for higher education.  

In Virginia, there’s a gentleman’s agreement that UVa* and the College of William and Mary* will keep out-of-state undergrads to about one-third of the total undergraduate population.  And the admissions offices in both schools work hard to toe the line, often using transfers from local community colleges to keep the numbers in check.

This is because the last thing either school wants is a legislated cap like the 18 percent restriction on out-of-state students in the University of North Carolina system.  Even relatively benign caps, such as the 45 percent limit on all nonresident freshmen imposed on Colorado universities by the state, can be troublesome.

And so colleges and legislators engage in a curious kind of dance, where the first responsibility to in-state students is acknowledged but the big tuition dollars provided by out-of-state students are welcomed.

Thanks to an interactive tool devised by Jon Boeckenstedt, associate vice president for enrollment management at DePaul University, it’s easy to see which public institutions reach out to out-of-state students in a big way and enroll more than 50 percent nonresident freshmen.  Some of these numbers are facilitated by generous reciprocation programs between neighboring states, but most simply reflect the eagerness of schools to bring in money from outside their borders.
Other public institutions where nonresidents make up a significant percentage of incoming freshmen include College of Charleston (49.5%), University of Oregon (45.6%), University of South Carolina (45.5%), University of Colorado Boulder (40.6%)*, and the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor (39.1%).*

*Also appears on the list of most expensive public institutions for out-of-state students

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