Out-of-state students boost university budgets


LANSING — When the state cuts funding to public higher education, universities generally react by raising tuition. But a second option is to increase the number of out-of-state and international students, who pay more to attend.

For example, Michigan State University charges about $12,000 for undergraduate state residents, but out-of-state and international students pay $32,000 to $33,000 each year.

Michigan ranks ninth in the nation in the number of international students enrolled in the state’s 15 public universities, but only 45th in out-of-state enrollment.

According to Business Leaders for Michigan, based in Detroit, 9.4 percent of students in state universities come from other states. About 30,000 out-of-state students are enrolled but they cluster at a few universities.

According to the Senate Fiscal Agency, 34 percent of University of Michigan-Ann Arbor’s students are from another state, followed by Michigan Technological University with 20 percent and Northern Michigan University with 18 percent. By comparison, 98 percent of those at Oakland University are Michigan residents.

Michael Boulus, the executive director of the Presidents Council, State Universities of Michigan, said high tuition is the biggest factor that influences out-of-state enrollments.

“Each state has their own regional universities with lower tuitions, so why do they want to pay premium fees if they are not going to MSU or U-M? It doesn’t make a lot of sense,” he said.

Boulus also said that location is a factor because universities close to the borders find it easier to recruit out-of-state students. “For example, Michigan Tech is a good engineering school close to Wisconsin, so there are many Wisconsin students studying there.”

At Michigan Tech, 614 of 1,400 out-of-state students are from Wisconsin. For the same reason, 819 of 1,600 Eastern Michigan University’s are from Ohio. And Illinois is the state that sends the most students to all universities in Michigan, according to the Senate Fiscal Agency.

The proportion of some universities’ in-state students has been shrinking, but not because of the increasing number of out-of-state and international students.

“The high school graduation rate is declining much faster than the enrollment rate does, so we don’t have enough in-state qualified candidates,” Boulus said. That means a larger percentage of in-state applicants get accepted.

He said that he encourages universities to enroll more out-of-state and international students.

“Our universities have the capacity for more students. At the same time, they bring the university more funds and let the students appreciate different cultures and languages,” he said. “The difficulty is how they can convince students and their parents to choose them.”

With more than 1,600 students coming from other states, Western Michigan University provides the Presidential Gold Scholarship for $9,000 or the Presidential Silver Scholarship for $7,000 to non-residents who qualify academically, according to Tony Ringuette in the admissions office. And the university’s policy allows those from out-of-state to become eligible for Michigan residency after 12 consecutive months of living in Michigan and pay in-state tuition.

Similarly Central Michigan University also provides scholarships to outstanding out-of-state students who then pay the same tuition as in-state residents. The university said that opens the market to more non-residents.

Institution Number of out-of-state students
Central Michigan University 788
Eastern Michigan University 1,675
Ferris State University 784
Grand Valley State University 988
Lake Superior State University 99
Michigan State University 5,465
Michigan Technological University 1,424
Northern Michigan University 1,654
Oakland University 232
Saginaw Valley State University 61
University of Michigan – Ann Arbor 14,486
University of Michigan – Dearborn 382
University of Michigan – Flint 262
Wayne State University 1,059
Western Michigan University 1,603

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