Nearly one year ago, the University of Minnesota's Board of Regents passed a proposal that increased non-resident tuition by 15 percent. This proposal was introduced in an effort to match University tuition rates to rates throughout the rest of the Big Ten.
As the University started charging out-of-state students more for tuition this fall, it saw a 26 percent drop in out-of-state freshmen enrollment. Matching these timelines – the implementation of a tuition rate hike and an enrollment nosedive – shows an obvious pattern of students discouraged to attend the University. Raising the out-of-state tuition rate suddenly and sharply has been a disservice to both students and the University.
This drop in out-of-state enrollment may cause a decline in initial interest in the University when students and families are evaluating costs. If students can find another post-secondary option closer to home that's more affordable, they're more likely to choose that option. Due to this, and apparent by the drop in enrollment, the academic pool from which the University is pulling has shrunk.
The University may be missing out on great academic candidates, especially from lower income communities who may be discouraged from applying. We want the University to continue increasing diversity, while allowing students from all financial backgrounds the opportunity to receive a high-quality University education. Our school currently welcomes students from all across the country, and each student brings their own experiences and knowledge – as a University, we thrive on this. Unfortunately, the increased financial barrier will limit the varied experiences and knowledge contributing to the University community.
The barrier also has an impact on the Twin Cities. Out-of-states students may be persuaded to stay in the Twin Cities after graduation. Our metropolitan area is one of the largest in the Midwest, which provides numerous job opportunities for recent graduates. With fewer people permanently settling in Minneapolis and St. Paul, our campus and our local community will be affected.
Raising out-of-state tuition will permanently change the identity of the University. After these changes take place, the chances of the University lowering out-of-state tuition seem slim to none. If the University wants to continue drawing students from outside Minnesota and encourage the development of a diversified student body, a more reasonable tuition balance needs to be implemented. While we understand the initial reasons for raising out-of-state tuition, the immediate results reflect too high of a drop in out-of-state enrollment to justify the changes. Only time will tell how this policy decision may permanently affect the University. Regardless, current trends are alarming, to say the least.