Out-of-state enrollment climbing at Mizzou
The Kansas City Star
Tim Wolfe, the new University of Missouri system president, dropped a startling statistic today during a visit with the Kansas City Star editorial page staff.
The Columbia campus, he said, received more applications from out-of-state students this year than from inside Missouri.
Out-of-state enrollment at Mizzou is about 25 percent. But among freshmen the percentage is closer to one-third, Wolfe said. The university recruits ambitiously in the Chicago and Dallas areas and is looking at ramping up its efforts in Atlanta.
Wolfe portrayed the expanding out-of-state enrollment as a good thing. A wider talent pool means better credentialed students. “You can have more opportunity to have the best and brightest on campus,” Wolfe said.
It also means dollars. The sticker price for out-of-state tuition at Mizzou is $20,870 a year, compared with $8,928 for in-state students.
I think Wolfe’s enthusiasm for recruiting out of state is valid up to a point. It’s good to be a competing for bright students from around the nation. Some of them might stick around after graduation.
But there comes a point when universities reach a tipping point. They become less of a public university serving the needs of a state and its families than an elite institution acting like a private school.
The University of Michigan, with an out-of-state enrollment of 36 percent, often gets tagged with that concern, as does the University of Virginia, with out-of-state enrollment of 30 percent, probably because their out-of-state tuition rates, both on the high side of $35,000 a year, look more like the private schools. But, among public universities, the University of Vermont has the highest percentage of out-of-state students — 66 percent.
Mizzou isn’t anywhere near those institutions. And Wolfe said the school isn’t turning down any qualified Missouri students in favor of out-of-state kids.
If out-of-state enrollment is climbing fast, though, the university and the Board of Curators need to begin talking about what the threshold should be. What is the tipping point when a public university for Missouri starts looking like something else?
Right now, said Wolfe, “there is no threshold.”