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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Out of State Enrollments are Up!


                                                (Photo by Domino,

by Katherine O'Brien, ThD cand., CCPS, Founder of Celtic College Consultants

Over the past twenty years, 45 of the 50 public flagship universities have seen an increase in the number of out of state students. In some cases, that increase is 20% higher in 2022 than it was in 2002. U of Alabama leads this trend with almost 42% more out of state students. U of Arkansas is close, with 41% more. Also above 20% are U of Hawai'i, Louisiana State, U of Massachusetts, U of Oklahoma, U of Oregon, U of South Carolina, U of Tennessee, U of Washington, and U of Wisconsin.

This trend is significant. Out of state students pay more than in state students. Consequently, as state budgets tighten, universities have turned to this additional revenue source. At the same time, in some places, state funding has been lowered in response to the increase in out of state student attendance. As with all things relating to college, this, too, is complicated.

A few states have, over that twenty year period, lowered the percentage of out of state students. These flagship universities include U of Nevada and U of Maryland, 7% each, and U of Minnesota and U of North Carolina. The University of Michigan maintained the same percentage of in and out of state students.

There are numerous "undergraduate exchanges" around the US. These agreements offer significant discounts to out of state students from other states in the region. Of course, these agreements are only between public universities; private colleges charge the same tuition no matter where their students' homes are. Exchanges exist in many parts of the country. Often, specific majors such as nursing, engineering, and business are excluded from the exchanges' tuition reduction programs. Each student must research his or her possibilities. Typically, out of state students who participate in the exchange pay 150% of instate tuition, typically saving as much as $15,000 per year, or $60,000 over the course of four years. There is usually no additional paperwork required; qualified students are identified by the colleges and the discount is applied automatically.

While four year graduation rates tend to be above 50% at the flagship universities, it is not always the case. Proper preparation for college is a significant factor in a student's ability to complete an undergraduate degree in four years. Students in "impacted" majors may find it difficult to take the courses required to graduate since "impacted" is a euphemism for overcrowded. Additionally, some campuses don't offer enough sections of fundamental courses required by a number of majors. For example, English composition, first year Calculus, and first year Physics are all required for many different majors.

For students desiring a strong Catholic community on campus, I am happy to report that there are nearly 300 public colleges and universities that have them. For all the information about them, please see the college guide I wrote: Every Catholic's Guide to College

Preparing students well and researching colleges are my specialty. To schedule a consultation for you and your 8th - 11th grade college bound student, please email Katherine at

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