Public Universities That Are Addicted to Out-of-State Students

I read a story in the Wall Street Journal yesterday about the flood of students from the Northeast who have been heading west to attend Indiana University. Among Indiana’s newest crop of freshmen, there are roughly 260 kids from the New York City area alone.

With the snootiest schools on the East Coast continuing to reject nearly all comers, more families are looking elsewhere for a solid education. And they want to pay for these bachelor’s degrees at a deep discount.

Indiana University is certainly obliging.

One way that Indiana has attracted East Coast kids is by handing out merit scholarships, which are aimed at kids who won’t qualify for need-based aid. The school even advertised this opportunity when it paid for a half-page ad in The New York Times.

Today public universities across the country are using taxpayer dollars to entice affluent kids beyond their borders to attend their schools. The practice is controversial, but it’s also been growing dramatically.

Consequently, if you’re interested in getting a price cut at a premier state university elsewhere in the country, you’ve got options. Historically, the only way many non-resident families could get a price cut on a public university outside their state was to find a school in another state with a reciprocal agreement. See my blog entry on state universities with reciprocal agreements.

But today plenty of flagship universities are now slashing prices for affluent kids with solid GPAs and SAT or ACT scores.

A prime motivation for these schools is a cynical one. If university administrators can pay to lure smart out-of-staters to their schools, they’ve got a chance of climbing up the U.S. News & World Report rankings.

In my book, The College Solution, I mention some of the state schools that offer merit scholarships. They include the University of Florida, the University of Alabama, the University of South Carolina and the University of Virginia. The average merit award at Miami (OH) University, which enjoys an excellent academic reputation, was recently close to $12,000 a year. The WSJ story noted that the University of Illinois is handing out money and there are many more schools doing the same thing.

Not passing up an opportunity to bask in the positive press glow, Indiana University posted the Wall Street Journal story on its website. You can read the story here.

You can learn more about state reciprocal agreements by reading  The College Solution.

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