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Monday, May 25, 2015

Ind. Gov't. - "The In-State Tuition Break, Slowly Disappearing" - Purdue named as example

Kevin Carey, of the NY Times feature, The Upshot, wrote in a column May 18th:

Over the last decade, state governments and universities have been chipping away at a pillar of American opportunity: in-state tuition.

Part of this story is familiar to anyone who has watched public universities raise tuition and fees, in some cases by 50 percent or more. But there’s another, less obvious, part of the story. Many of the most elite public universities are steadily restricting the number of students who are allowed to pay in-state tuition in the first place.

A result is the creeping privatization of elite public universities that have historically provided an accessible route to jobs in academia, business and government. One of the most important paths to upward mobility, open on a meritocratic basis to people from all economic classes, is narrowing.

To understand why, it helps to divide public universities into two categories. The nonprofit Carnegie Foundation classifies 147 public universities as national leaders in conducting research. These are the flagship universities and land-grant institutions that often have selective admissions criteria and Division I football teams. An additional 500 regional public universities conduct less research and often have less selective admissions policies. These two groups — national and regional public universities — each educate about the same number of students. [ILB - Purdue University and Indiana University are examples of national public universities.]

Most students attending public universities stay in the state where their parents reside, in large part because in-state students have traditionally received a steep tuition discount. Out-of-state students have long been in the minority and pay tuition closer to that charged by private universities. As recently as 2000, national and regional public universities were similar in this regard. That year, 80 percent of national public university students were in-state, compared with 86 percent at regional public universities.

But in the years that followed, the two groups began to diverge. At regionals, little changed. College enrollment swelled in every state after 2000 as the baby boom echo generation finished high school and a larger share of high school graduates enrolled in college. The additional students at regional universities looked much like the old ones. From 2000 to 2012 (the latest year of available federal data), nine out of 10 additional regional public university students were in-state.

The pattern at elite national universities was very different. There, the majority of additional students were from other states. Instead of extending their traditional mission of providing an affordable, high-quality education to local residents, national universities focused on recruiting students from other states and nations, many of whom paid much higher tuition rates. As a result, the number of in-state spots relative to the college-going population as a whole declined significantly at national public universities. * * *

Alabama accomplished this in part by substantially expanding the total number of students it enrolls, including in-state students. Other public universities have made space for out-of-state students by allowing fewer in-state ones to attend. * * *

Purdue University cut annual in-state slots for incoming freshmen by more than 500 students, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign by more than 300, and Auburn and Michigan State by more than 200, with each enrolling hundreds of additional out-of-state and international students in their stead.

Replacing in-state with out-of-state students can be easier than raising prices because tuition increases are highly public and are frequently regulated by state legislatures and governing bodies. Universities often have more discretion over the in-state/out-of-state of mix. * * *

The slow death of in-state tuition is a case where declining public investment and selfish institutional interests tend to coincide. National public universities are cutting in-state enrollment in part to make up for state budget cuts. But they also have a strong desire to become more like elite private universities — Stanford, Duke, the Ivy League — that have the freedom to enroll the best and the brightest from around the world and charge whatever prices the market will bear. Budget cuts give them an excuse to become what they wanted to be all along.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on May 25, 2015 06:46 PM
Posted to Indiana Government