How Cuts to Public Universities Have Driven Students Out of State
August 26, 2016 9:05 AM   Subscribe

NYT: "Declines in state support for public universities have helped reshape the geography of public college admissions, leading many students to attend universities far from home, where they pay higher, out-of-state tuition. An analysis of migration patterns among college freshmen shows the states students leave each year and where they go." How does your state measure up?

States with the highest student loss include California, Texas, Minnesota, and Illinois.
Budget cuts have driven public universities across the country to seek out-of-state students, who pay higher tuition. They have found fertile ground in California and Texas, where declines in state support have increased tuition and limited the number of spots available.

In Texas, only the top 10 percent of each high school’s graduating class is promised admission to a public university. Many high-performing students who just miss the cut-off leave for Oklahoma and Arkansas, according to Catherine Horn, the executive director of the Institute for Educational Policy Research and Evaluation.

Budget cuts have led to sharply higher tuition in Illinois and Minnesota, which export far more students than they import from other states. As a result, it can be cheaper for a Minnesota student to go to North Dakota State University, which attracts students with discounted tuition, than the University of Minnesota.
Further reading: Public Colleges Chase Out-of-State Students, and Tuition
posted by Existential Dread (44 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Not mentioned in the article, large numbers going between Minnesota and Wisconsin is fueled by reciprocity.
posted by mcstayinskool at 9:16 AM on August 26, 2016 [9 favorites]


Hmm. Does this adjust in any way for relative state populations? It doesn't seem to. My home state of Massachusetts, for instance, has a net outward flow of students—but all of the states surrounding us with the exception of New York have much smaller populations than us, so we may just have more students, period than our neighbors. The student migration patterns do seem pretty regional, so this seems to me like it would really skew the interpetstion of the results.

What I'd prefer to know is what percentage of the overall college-bound cohort each year stays in-state as opposed to leaving. If my hypothesis above is correct, I'd expect to see that MA's retention percentage was higher than our smaller and/or more rural neighbors, even though in terms of absolute numbers we are experiencing a net outflow.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 9:21 AM on August 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


I'm very startled to see that there's a net flow of Georgian students to Alabama, given the situation with HOPE paying for full tuition at any public in-state school for in-state students, as long as they maintain a 3.0 GPA or better. When I went to college in 2008, that policy was extremely popular with students, and I'd say that conservatively about 80-90% of the people I went to UGA with were in-state residents on HOPE.

I would really like to know what the overall numbers of students in each state are, though. For example, I don't think that Alabama has any cities of comparative size to, say, Atlanta. How might that be skewing the numbers? Because this looks like it's just total numbers of students who leave states vs. entering them. If states like Georgia and Texas have most of their public university spaces occupied by in-state students, of course they're going to be scored more harshly by metrics like this that only "balance" students leaving a state to go to college with students that come to that state from elsewhere to attend college.
posted by sciatrix at 9:29 AM on August 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


I've never really understood how it's legal to charge out-of-state or international students (or non-Mormons -- hi BYU!) significantly more. Isn't that textbook discrimination?
posted by Sys Rq at 9:30 AM on August 26, 2016


tl;dr: what the fuck are the numbers for students that do stay in-state for college in each state? Because that information is real important for their point about students going to more expensive places elsewhere, and yet it's totally missing from this analysis.
posted by sciatrix at 9:30 AM on August 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


Also, on further reflection, I'm not totally convinced that student migration in and of itself is a problem. It may reflect an underlying problem in certain cases, but I'm not convinced that it's very illustrative on the whole. A more positive interpretation of the phenomenon is that students who go to school in other states serve as ambassadors for the greatness of their home state. I know that when I was in school in California and later Louisiana I was keen to compare my experiences in MA with my classmates, whether they were attending in their home state or had come from some other state or country, and I mostly had positive things to say about my erstwhile home.

Conversely, having students come into the state from outside is a great way to bring new perspectives into an area and forge connections between people and regions that might otherwise never have a chance to form. Basically, while I obviously think that strong support for public higher education is very, very important if you want your state to have any kind of future (Louisiana, my heart breaks for you) I also think it's good to have students moving around, taking the experiences and values of their upbringings to new places, and making connections with people from other parts of the country. Going to school out of state is one of the most common ways that people start to have their horizons opened and to learn that the world is a great big place with lots of possibilities for them outside of their home towns. I'd actually really recommend it to just about anyone, if they think it makes sense given the rest of their situational gestalt.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 9:31 AM on August 26, 2016 [6 favorites]


Sys Rq, I think it has to do with out-of-staters not being a protected class, and the fact that in-state students have already had their tuition subsidized by their parents' taxes, whereas the parents of out-of-state students didn't pay into that system.

In the case of BYU, I think it's just that it's a private, religiously-affiliated organization, and they can get away with all sorts of stuff on the basis of First Amendment rights and the fact that they aren't publicly-owned.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 9:34 AM on August 26, 2016 [7 favorites]


In the case of BYU, I think it's just that it's a private, religiously-affiliated organization, and they can get away with all sorts of stuff on the basis of First Amendment rights and the fact that they aren't publicly-owned.

Even in BYU's case the same principle is applying. Mormons pay tithing to their church (10% of gross income), which is kind of a "tax" that allows allows them to heavily subsidize tuition costs for LDS students, most of whose parents paid into the system.
posted by foxfirefey at 9:40 AM on August 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


Also, on further reflection, I'm not totally convinced that student migration in and of itself is a problem.

I'd agree with this, and I think that students moving to different academic institutions and cultures is a net benefit. My undergrad research advisor basically told me, "Go somewhere else for grad school." I think that these migration patterns say interesting things about the state of education, but only in context. CA and TX have massive student bodies, and tuition rocketing upwards along with limited growth in student body size probably has a lot to do with the mass migration to AZ from CA. Illinois OTOH is a clear example of failed policies; eight (!) times more students left than came in.
posted by Existential Dread at 9:40 AM on August 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


Ugh, it's not like those numbers aren't available, either. Lazy analysis! I'll also note that with the sole exception of Georgia Tech (which is all of 39% out of state), every single listed Georgia public college sits at less than 10% occupancy by out-of-state students.

Come on now. When you title your article "How Cuts to Public Universities Have Driven Students Out of State," maybe you should check to see whether they are actually going out of state.
posted by sciatrix at 9:42 AM on August 26, 2016 [4 favorites]


Not mentioned in the article, large numbers going between Minnesota and Wisconsin is fueled by reciprocity.

I see the same thing in these maps for the IN/KY market which I am directly witness to in various ways. I suspect there are a number of factors that lead to jumping borders for state schools and most of them tend to be close borders due to distance, size of school, or price. In the case of IN/KY near Louisville, it's actually a lot cheaper to go to IU than University of Louisville or Kentucky because tuition is just plain lower and reciprocity is in effect. On the other hand, the students that decide to cross the river go to a vastly smaller school. Students on the Indiana side choose to cross the river to go to a larger school that's still commuting distance from home.
posted by phlyingpenguin at 9:43 AM on August 26, 2016


Y'know, I was thinking "How come people who can't even afford in-state tuition, go out-of-state where the tuition is higher? That doesn't make sense!" But it appears that the real problem is, schools lower their standards to accept (out-of-state) people who pay more. And that is a serious problem.
posted by spacewrench at 9:43 AM on August 26, 2016


schools lower their standards to accept (out-of-state) people who pay more.

When I applied, the opposite was generally true. Competition was much, much higher for out-of-state students. I suspect this varies heavily from state to state (particularly if the state doesn't cap the percentage of out-of-state students), but it created a weird dynamic within the school.

I've been out of college for a bunch of years, and the inherent unfairness of segregating universities by state still bothers me a lot.

Many have noted that there are generally only tollbooths on the side of the road that leads away from New Jersey. The same thing holds true for the University system. (Rutgers is lovely, but it's the only 4-year option for most disciplines. If you don't like Rutgers, or New Jersey, pay up.)
posted by schmod at 9:54 AM on August 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


That great big arrow from California to Arizona! Keeping me employed.
posted by Squeak Attack at 10:03 AM on August 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


This thread shows how valuable it would be for journalists to vet their analysis and conclusions with people outside their office before publishing. Yes, undoubtedly there is a problem with public colleges and universities seeking more out-of-state students for the $$$, but much of the seeming proof of that point was wiped out by the first two comments of this thread.
posted by ferdydurke at 10:07 AM on August 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


it appears that the real problem is, schools lower their standards to accept (out-of-state) people who pay more.

I don't know that that doesn't happen in certain places, but the issue pointed to here is that attractive public universities will attract more better-qualified out-of-state students, thus displacing in-state students without any need to lower standards for those who pay more. If you're applying to UMich or Berkeley, you're competing not just against your Michigan or California cohort, but against a national, even international, population. Assuming that the number of students remains relatively constant, that automatically makes it harder to gain admission.
posted by praemunire at 10:08 AM on August 26, 2016 [7 favorites]


The reciprocity agreement between Wisconsin and Minnesota has been around for decades, and there's a similar agreement between Minnesota and North Dakota. Doesn't hurt that some of the involved institutions are near the Minnesota - North Dakota border.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:13 AM on August 26, 2016


Just anecdotally, my son earned a 35 on the ACT on his first try (36 is the highest score), was an honors student at a rigorous private school, had the depth of extracurriculars that admissions departments say they're looking for these days, and had great entrance essays (could have been better, I'm not going to lie). He was offered nearly a full ride to a private university out-of-state and at the same time offered a total of $2000 from our biggest-name in-state university. Per year. Not semester. $2000. Meanwhile, the number of out-of-state students at our state school increases every year.

So now he's 500 miles away. The college counselors at his high school were baffled that he was offered that little at our state school.
posted by cooker girl at 10:18 AM on August 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


I am fairly certain that, at most state colleges and universities, in state students are a budgetary liability, since the state spends less on the institution than the institution would make with all out of state students. It's weird when the state institutions of higher learning lose money educating in state students.

I'd like to see the in-state/out-of-state student distinction go away. State universities should provide a flat rate, and then the legislatures can vote subsidies for in-state students every year, irrespective of where that student is going. That would make the cost of state higher ed budget cuts clear to the taxpayers, which is, of course, why it will never happen.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:27 AM on August 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


Does this adjust in any way for relative state populations? It doesn't seem to.

I've always been told that California is a net exporter of students because there simply aren't enough spots in state schools, in spite of there being 10 UC schools and 23 CSU schools and all the private schools in-state. I suppose this could just be a funding issue but it's also a campus capacity issue, a staffing issue, etc which all comes down to money, but money alone won't fix these problems.

Besides, there's no shame in exporting students. Post-secondary students have become a commodity and like a lot of commodities California imports a bunch as well as exporting a bunch.

As we speak I'm in the process of moving my first kid to his freshman year at university - in Canada. Good kid but he wasn't going to get scholarship money anywhere so we figured that returning him to native soil from California had a bunch of benefits, not the least of which is that his first year will cost us $20K CAD all-inclusive which at current exchange rates is just a hair over $15K USD.

Canadians, you have no idea how good you have it.
posted by GuyZero at 10:28 AM on August 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


Also there are about 100 schools across the west that have in-state tuition reciprocity with California. They're generally not the #1 schools in each state, but there are still plenty of them so many of those Californians flooding out are not paying out-of-state tuition either.
posted by GuyZero at 10:30 AM on August 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


praemunire raises a really good point there that I'd been sort of turning over in my head but hadn't been able to articulate properly. If you come from a state that has schools in its public system that are nationally or internationally recognized, there will be well-qualified students who are willing and able to pay the higher out-of-state tuition because there just aren't any public schools in their home state that are at the level they're trying to get into. A top-tier public school may well still be much cheaper than an equivalent private one, even at out-of-state prices.

This will certainly increase the percentage of students coming in from out-of-state (which I'd argue isn't necessarily a terrible thing, as it enriches the cultural diversity of the student body) and since the admissions model is a competitive one where a large number of students compete for a relatively small number of seats, a larger out-of-state applicant pool is necessarily going to reduce the number of in-state applicants that get in.

Presumably at some point a state school would implement quotas to ensure that it's still fulfilling its mission of educating the populace of the state in which it resides, but I'm sure it's a matter of considerable argument where such quotas should be set.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 10:33 AM on August 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


Let an old guy give some background on this topic. When I attended my state university, the rule of thumb was (1) no more than 10% of students should be from out of state. Why? So instate parents, paying state taxes, would have a place for their children. (2) the difference between out of state and in state tuition would be approx 1000 dollars.
Clearly that has changed. In many instances, states have told their universities to help fund the schools, and in so doing the schools sought out of state students, often as in some schools as much as a quarter of the student body. And of course the out of state fee has gone up, in most cases to some 3-4 thousand dollars more than in state state tuition.
The real issue? I pay taxes in my state in part for my state university, but my son, not getting accepted because though his grades ok, there are too many out of state students accepted. So I now pay out of state fee for my son while continuing to pay my state taxes for my state school.
Another neat trick: Students coming from out of state may register a car in their new state; pay sales fees, live off campus and register a car in their new state, but they remain for all 4 years Out of State for fees and voting.
posted by Postroad at 10:47 AM on August 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


Sciatrix, a friend and I were discussing the other day why there are so many students from Georgia attending Auburn. Are those students not eligible for HOPE so look outside of GA? Auburn is right down I-85 from Atlanta so maybe proximity is the appeal.

I've read the majority of the students in the recent incoming freshman classes at UAT are from out-of-state.
posted by LoveHam at 11:30 AM on August 26, 2016


Dear Californians,
Please stop coming here and driving up costs for all the in-state students.

Sincerely,
People who have to live here after you're gone.

P.S. We don't drive like assholes around here, please adjust accordingly.
posted by madajb at 12:00 PM on August 26, 2016 [4 favorites]


I've never really understood how it's legal to charge out-of-state or international students significantly more. Isn't that textbook discrimination?

State of residence is not a protected class. Only discrimination based on protected class(es) is illegal.

(or non-Mormons -- hi BYU!)

That's a little different. Though religion is a protected class, private religious schools get some leeway that public schools don't.
posted by splitpeasoup at 12:02 PM on August 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


GuyZero not the least of which is that his first year will cost us $20K CAD all-inclusive which at current exchange rates is just a hair over $15K USD.

Does that include room and board?

Depending on where you go, the cost of living is a big chunk on top of that. For example, even the junior crappy dorms at UBC rent for over $1k a month. Of course, there are always off-campus shared housing and unversities in places with a much lower cost of living.
posted by porpoise at 12:57 PM on August 26, 2016


California has outflows because California college admission is disproportionately hard relative to reputation. Someone who can get into schools that no one outside of California have heard of like UC Irvine or Cal Poly, and which as well regarded as they are, still aren't top ten schools in Califronia and won't get you interviews at Google or McKinsey, can get into pretty much any flagship public university outside of California, including world famous ones like Michigan and UVA.
posted by MattD at 1:01 PM on August 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


State of residence is not a protected class. Only discrimination based on protected class(es) is illegal.

But national origin is protected, right? So what's up with double tuition for foreigners?
posted by Sys Rq at 1:28 PM on August 26, 2016


(I should point out that I am aware the US isn't the only place where post-secondary institutions charge foreigners extra; as far as I can tell, it's near-universal, even in all the countries where strong anti-discrimination laws exist. It just confuses me, is all.)
posted by Sys Rq at 1:33 PM on August 26, 2016


If you're applying to UMich or Berkeley, you're competing not just against your Michigan or California cohort, but against a national, even international, population.

Yeah, you have to separate out the public colleges that are "top-tier colleges that happen to be public" and compete against private colleges for the top students. I have a family member who went out-of-state to Berkeley, not because of any in-state issues but because it was Berkeley. I went to an out-of-state private college, but of course "in-state" or "out-of-state" doesn't matter for private schools (at least generally, maybe there's some exception somewhere).

Something like UC Irvine or UC Santa Barbara, on the other hand, while certainly not bad schools are not generally going to be on the list of someone from the South or Midwest. But UCB or UCLA (top two public universities according to the admittedly somewhat dubious US News rankings) could be.
posted by thefoxgod at 1:43 PM on August 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


Anecdotally, we seemed to experience this with my daughter two years ago. She applied to 7 schools, 5 out of state public, 1 private, and the in-state public land-grant school (VA Tech) that possesses three or four national championship trophies (4-H) with her name on it. Every out of state school gave her significant money, with two scholarships into six figures. VT didn't offer her a dime.

It worked out fine, she got a near full-ride in the Midwest where she is doing great and having a great time. But I always found it weird that the state spent all that money educating her in 4-H , and flying her around the country for a couple of years competing on behalf of the state in national level competitions, then made no attempt at all to keep her in state for college.
posted by COD at 1:54 PM on August 26, 2016


As we speak I'm in the process of moving my first kid to his freshman year at university - in Canada.

You may regret the decision when he comes home and starts adding 'u's to words, seemingly at random. The good news is that when you call him on this, he'll sincerely apologize.
posted by el io at 2:04 PM on August 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


SysRq, a student born in France but meeting the residency requirements for Michigan would be charged in-state tuition. So it's not discrimination on the basis of national origin.
posted by praemunire at 2:10 PM on August 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


Do international students actually have a higher tuition cost, or are they just not eligible for any kind of financial aid?
posted by Huffy Puffy at 2:17 PM on August 26, 2016


But national origin is protected, right? So what's up with double tuition for foreigners?
National origin is a protected class, but citizenship isn't. If they said that citizens who were born outside the US were charged more than citizens born in the US (or citizens who were originally from France were charged more than citizens from Spain), that would be discrimination.

Having said that, it's a shitty policy.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 4:52 PM on August 26, 2016


Having said that, it's a shitty policy.

Hmmm, I think the out-of-state tuition thing makes sense, really. While there are edge cases, the whole point is that state universities are funded by state taxes to serve residents of the state. If others want to attend they're not prohibited, but they don't get the same discount as residents do.

The alternative is to just charge everyone the higher fee, but then the rationale for states paying to maintain universities seems to be less (if they're not mainly for state residents).

Of course, whats happening is that the universities want more money and so prefer the out-of-state students. So on the other hand, maybe getting rid of the in-state discount makes sense in that it puts in-state students on an equal footing for admissions. However, it raises the cost of college for everyone. And likely state support for the schools would go down, as I suspect residents would be less interested in footing the bill.
posted by thefoxgod at 5:44 PM on August 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


Switching all public universities to federal funding would eliminate many of these issues, of course. But thats never going to happen (at least, until the Democrats have a huge majority in Congress _and_ decide its worth the political capital... which seems unlikely).
posted by thefoxgod at 5:45 PM on August 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


Hmmm, I think the out-of-state tuition thing makes sense, really.
Oh, I agree. But some public colleges charge an extra surcharge to international students, and I think that stinks.

I also don't necessarily have a problem with state schools courting out-of-state students, especially in small states that don't really have the population to sustain all the academic programs that their residents might want to have access to. If I were the admissions folks at North Dakota State University, I would definitely be courting students from Western Minnesota, because it's about a ten minute drive from NDSU to the Minnesota border, and there might be good reasons apart from cost that a student from Minnesota would prefer NDSU to any of the U of M campuses.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:55 PM on August 26, 2016


Oh, I see. I didn't see that in the article but if there is an _additional_ foreign fee on top of out of state that seems unnecessary.

One advantage of federal funding would be to equalize the quality more so that people from small/poor states would not have to travel across the country to get an education. I mean, some people enjoy that, but others have family obligations or other reasons they can't do it.
posted by thefoxgod at 6:17 PM on August 26, 2016


Does that include room and board?

Everything*. Well, I guess that doesn't include the laptop. But I guess I'm gloating a little bit honestly - the tuition disparity is crazy. Not that the Canadian system is all roses and candles and mood lighting but it's the right fit for a lot of people, us included.

* That's Arts tuition at one Ontario university and YMMV based on major, location, etc
posted by GuyZero at 7:27 PM on August 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


Someone who can get into schools that no one outside of California have heard of like UC Irvine or Cal Poly, and which as well regarded as they are, still aren't top ten schools in Califronia and won't get you interviews at Google or McKinsey, can get into pretty much any flagship public university outside of California, including world famous ones like Michigan and UVA.

It was a long time ago, but that's pretty much me. Despite not getting into Cal Poly, I got into the flagship public schools for California, Virgina, and Washington. Even 20 years ago, the total cost difference between UVa and Cal wasn't all that large, so I went to UVa.
posted by LionIndex at 8:15 PM on August 26, 2016


I can say at my alma mater that international students pay per quarter what the in-state students pay per year, approximately. I can't say if they get financial aid or not (I have zero knowledge of that subject), but I would suspect they do not. I do know there are a lot of people trying to figure out how to count as in-state residents after a while, and apparently international students have to prove that they have a certain large amount in their bank account. I forget how much the out-of-state-but-in-country students pay by comparison, but we have huge numbers of international students and not a whole lot of out-of-staters. Our most recent infamous leader had a huuuuuuge push for international students to make up for the money they aren't getting from the state.

Okay, officially checking statistics, 60ish percent of the most recent class are in-state. I can't seem to find the statistics for international students right now, but I've heard it said somewhere between 10 and 14%.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:06 PM on August 27, 2016


I can't say if they get financial aid or not (I have zero knowledge of that subject), but I would suspect they do not.
I know about this! The biggest source of financial aid for students at US universities is the Federal government, and standard Federal aid is only available to US citizens and permanent residents. Most institutional scholarships also require students to be US citizens or permanent residents. Individual institutions may have some money set aside for international students, and there may be some external sources of scholarships. Also, students are occasionally funded by their home governments. In general, though, there isn't a lot of financial aid at the undergraduate level for international students. Most of them are paying their own way.
I do know there are a lot of people trying to figure out how to count as in-state residents after a while
This is super, super common among out-of-state domestic students in my institution, but it's not possible for international students. Some of the requirements to establish in-state residency directly contradict the requirements of student visas.
and apparently international students have to prove that they have a certain large amount in their bank account.
They do, and it seems harsh, but the idea is to prevent a situation where a student runs out of money half-way through a degree and has to go home. This also happens to domestic students, but domestic students have a lot of options that aren't open to international students. If a domestic student has a sudden change in family financial situation, he or she can apply for need-based financial aid, which isn't available to international students. He or she can take out loans, which typically aren't available to international students. The domestic student can go down to part-time and work, and international students are required by their visas to be full-time students, and their visas place a lot of limits on how much and where they can work.
I forget how much the out-of-state-but-in-country students pay by comparison, but we have huge numbers of international students and not a whole lot of out-of-staters.
Different states handle this differently. I know the University of Illinois charges international students more than domestic out-of-state students, or at least they did the last time I checked. I think they would probably say that this acknowledges the fact that international students require extra services to process visa paperwork, provide extra language help, etc., but I don't really buy that. Some states charge all out-of-state students the same amount, regardless of citizenship status.

I don't know. I work at an institution that has both a large out-of-state domestic population and a large international student population. I don't think we're turning away qualified in-state students in favor of out-of-state students: we're a small state, and we have more than enough spots for every in-state student who wants to come here and can do the work. (And actually, in my perfect world we would raise our admissions standards a bit.) Our tuition is low, even for out-of-state students, and many are paying the same or less than they would if they went to college in their home states and paid in-state tuition. And I think that we benefit from having a geographically diverse student body, which in our case leads to a more diverse student body in other ways, as well. I don't really see a downside, although I know that's less true for other schools and other states.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:59 AM on August 28, 2016


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