U boosts effort to woo out-of-state students

While out-of-state recruitment aims for diversity, cuts created a need for the tuition dollars.
November 15, 2011

The University of Minnesota has stepped up its efforts to recruit out-of-state students in the past five years, bringing in $5,000 more in tuition and fees per student.

Their approach models a national rush for out-of-state students to fill the gaps caused by diminishing state support at public universities.

This fall, a permanent University recruiter was placed in California to rake in even more nonresidents, said Wayne Sigler, the University’s admissions director.

The number of incoming freshmen from Minnesota, Wisconsin and North and South Dakota, which have reciprocity, decreased by 10 percent to about 83 percent in 2011, according to University data. That number was more than 92 percent in 2006.

In that same time frame, the number of out-of-state freshmen who come from states that don’t pay in-state tuition has almost doubled to 600 students in 2011.

These out-of-state students made up about 7 percent of the undergraduate population in fall 2011.

The extra tuition provided by these students is a source of revenue to the University, Sigler said. He said while the initial purpose of national recruitment was not about money, the budget situation has made it a priority.

“It is a revenue stream and an important one,” Sigler said.

But with increased national attendance at the University, Minnesota only ranks 23 out of all states on its attraction of out-of-state students, according to a Department of Education data analysis by The Chronicle of Higher Education. Pennsylvania tops the list.

In 2006, about 343 (or 6 percent) of admitted freshmen were from states other than those with which the University has reciprocity, according to the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System from the U.S. Department of Education. In 2008, that number jumped to 709 — about 15 percent of the freshman class.

Sigler said the number of out-of-state students has been “building” each year since.

Beginning in August 2011, the University established a regional recruiter in southern California — one of its target areas, Sigler said. Chicago, Kansas City, Kan., St. Louis, and Texas are also places they are expanding their recruiting efforts with direct mail, tele-counseling and high school visits, he said.

The University has previously focused their recruitment efforts in Illinois. Students from Illinois make up the largest non-reciprocity state population with almost 800 undergraduates enrolled for fall 2011.

Out-of-state students are primarily wooed by the University to increase geographic diversity, not just for the extra $5,000 they generate.

Sigler said nonresidents enhance the educational and social environment for University students and prepare Minnesota natives to compete in a global economy.

He said many nonresident students also have “family ties” to Minnesota.

Mikayla Durant is one of 150 undergraduates from the Golden State currently enrolled at the University.

Durant, who was born in Minneapolis and lived there for about a year before heading west to San Francisco, said returning to the University is a way to go “far away” but be close to home at the same time.

“I would still have extended family that I could see on Thanksgiving and times when it’s not always easy to go all the way back home,” she said.

The junior retail merchandising major said Minneapolis is similar in many ways to her hometown.

And while out-of-state tuition was an expense and factored into her decision, she said her family ultimately decided it was worth it.

“College is the one time when you can see a different part of the county, and there’s no strings attached,” Durant said.

She said she plans to return to California after graduation.

While recruitment has been ramped up in other states, Sigler said the primary focus of its recruitment efforts is Minnesota. They are committed to admitting between 60 and 66 percent of incoming freshmen who are Minnesota residents.

“We will not neglect our students from Minnesota,” he said.

Tuition and fees for 2011-12 is $5,000 more per year for nonresidents than for Minnesota and states with reciprocity, according to the University admissions website. It is $13,060 for in-state and $18,060 for out-of-state.

For Matthew Nguyen, a chemical engineering freshman and California-native, college in Minnesota was cheaper than going in his home state, even without his scholarship which waives the additional tuition for a nonresident, he said.

The University provides two scholarships specifically for nonresident freshmen that can offset the additional $5,000 in tuition, or reduce it by half.

Nguyen said the academic programs were his primary attraction to the University.

Sigler said a reason why national recruiting is so critical is because students who graduate from the University usually stay to work in the state, which contributes to the Minnesota workforce.

While Nguyen is enjoying his experience in Minnesota culture thus far, he said he isn’t sure yet if he will stay after graduation.

“I have to see how the winters are first,” he said.

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