Should you apply to a state school outside of your state?

Public universities are admitting more out-of-state students as a result of declining funding from their states.

Carlo Allegri/Reuters/File
Students hold up signs and chant slogans as they attend a demonstration calling for lower tuition at Hunter College in New York on November 12, 2015. The cost of attending college has risen dramatically in recent years.

For high school students wondering what their chances are of getting into public universities outside their home states, there’s good news and bad news: Many public universities are admitting more out-of-state students, but that’s because those students have to pay a lot more in tuition and fees.

A Washington Post analysis of 100 prominent public universities, which were created to provide affordable education to state residents, found that the share of freshmen from home states declined at more than 70 percent of the schools from 2004 to 2014. 

These include the University of Alabama, which had the largest decline in its share of in-state freshmen, a 36 percent drop; 20 or more percentage drop at UC-Berkeley and UCLA, Idaho State University, and the flagship schools of South Carolina, Missouri, Oregon, and Arkansas; and 15 to 19 percent drops at Michigan State, Ohio State, Purdue, Stony Brook, Colorado School of Mines, and the universities of Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, and Washington.

These public universities relied on out-of-state tuition to make up for sharp declines in state appropriations that started during the Great Recession of 2008 and leveled off in 2013, according to the American Institutes for Research.

Out-of-state students at public, four-year universities pay more than double in tuition and fees, according to the College Board, a not-for-profit that administers the SATs. On average, that's about $23,893 per year.

“The reliance on non­resident tuition income is probably going to continue,” George Pernsteiner, president of the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association told the Post. “Even in the states that have seen increases in state support in the last few years – have they reduced their non­resident enrollment? Well, no.”

This trend didn’t hold true at all public universities. At the University of Maryland in College Park, for instance, the number of freshmen enrolled from state high schools rose from 67 percent in 2004 to 72 percent in 2014, though state appropriations as a share of total revenue there also rose slightly, from 24 percent in 2004 to 26 percent in 2013.

In 2015, the Maryland university admitted 43 percent out-of-state applicants, reports the Post.

There were also increases in in-state admission in Florida (where state funding declined by 9 percent), Georgia (state funding declined by 12 percent), and Tennessee (state funding declined by 6 percent). 

Here are 2015 in-state and out-of-state admission rates from the Post for several other public universities:

  • University of California at Berkeley: The in-state admission rate is 19 percent and the out-of-state rate is 14 percent.
  • UCLA: The in-state rate is 16 percent and the out-of-state rate is 19 percent.
  • University of Virginia: The in-state rate is 44 percent percent and the out-of-state rate is 24 percent.
  • University of Wisconsin at Madison: The in-state rate is 67 percent and the out-of-state rate is 43 percent.
  • University of Maryland: The in-state rate is 46 percent and the out-of-state rate is 43 percent.
  • University of Alabama: The in-state rate is 59 percent and the out-of-state rate is 53 percent.


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