University looks to continue improvement on programs benefiting both in-state and out of state students

Tuesday, April 10, 2018 - 9:15pm

For LSA senior Madeleine Conrad, an out-of-state student from California, the differences in enrollment numbers between in-state and out-of-state students at the University of Michigan reflect the diverse perspectives brought by out-of-state students. Yet Conrad feels conflicted when she considers the role she feels the University should play in supporting in-state students.

“When you’re talking about diversity and perspective, obviously being in-state versus out-of-state is part of that,” Conrad said. “When you bring people from out-of-state, you bring people from, hopefully, different socioeconomic statuses, different communities. I think there is something to be said to that, to kind of value this perspective, (but) when considering the greater context this University has and should stand there for the people of Michigan.”

As a public flagship university, the University of Michigan was established upon principles representing the state — as well as an emphasis on providing education for in-state students who seek admission to the University. 

However, according to new freshmen enrollment by residency numbers at the University, only 52 percent of new freshmen hailed from in-state in the fall of 2017. This is an 8 percent drop from in-state freshmen enrollment in the fall of 2013. The decision of whether to pursue more national enrollment or continue emphasizing in-state enrollment remains an issue for public universities across the country, as the article reports 11 flagship universities that had incoming freshman classes in 2016 with over half of students being out-of-state.

Kedra Ishop, vice provost for Enrollment Management, explained in an email interview that the Office of Enrollment Management works to keep a majority in-state freshman class while also representing interests coming from the national and international scene.

Ishop stated high school populations in the state of Michigan are declining, and, likewise, the number of in-state applications remain lower than those from out-of-state students, with one-third of applicants coming from in-state and two-thirds from out-of-state. She explained applications have increased 120 percent since 2010, with a record number of applications in 2017. Yet the number of students admitted remains nearly the same. Because of this, seats for admission have become especially competitive, with in-state students having twice the admit rate as out-of-state and international students.

“Generally speaking, residency determines the pool in which the applicants compete,” Ishop wrote. “Among the many qualities of a U-M education is the opportunity to experience a college education with students from different areas of the state of Michigan, all (states), and over 150 countries of the world. Educational diversity is important for the 21st century educated student who is preparing to go out into the world to lead.”

LSA sophomore Alexandra Niforos, an in-state student, agreed in-state versus out-of-state factors aren’t limiting to the University’s diverse aspect, as both resident and non-resident students bring different backgrounds to the table.

“Michigan is pretty diverse in what backgrounds people can come from because they can come anywhere from rural Michigan to central Detroit,” Niforos said. “Everyone has a different background, but maybe bringing perspectives from other states, other school districts, other educational standards.”

When considering the financial aspect of enrollment, however, both Conrad and Niforos agreed the discrepancy between in-state and out-of-state tuition cannot go unnoticed and expressed concerns that many students remain unaware of exactly where their tuition dollars are being spent.  

“I know that a lot of people have scholarships to be able to fund their opportunities to come here, but it is a huge financial burden for people to choose to come here out-of-state,” Conrad said. “I have a lot of privilege to be able to come here financially and otherwise, and while I always complain about out-of-state tuition, I really do recognize that in-state tuition for people from Michigan is also very high and that’s kind of ironic.”

Niforos expressed similar sentiments, relating her perspective of high tuition rates to the socioeconomic status of students at the University, which remains relatively high66 percent of students at the University come from families in the top 20 percent.

“Tuition for college, in general, is insane, but Michigan asks a lot of their students in terms of tuition money, especially out-of-state students, so I can imagine that maybe some students from out-of-state get accepted and they just can’t afford to come here and then the ones who can, are the ones who are able to,” Niforos said. “It makes sense to me that socioeconomic status of most students would be in the upper range.”

With the argument that higher out-of-state tuition might hinder enrollment possibilities for non-resident students whose economic situations prevent them from paying tuition, Ishop stated for students who qualify for financial aid, it is given in an equitable manner.

“Since 2011, during the same time period that residency has been shifting, we have also purposefully developed financial aid policies to meet need for low and moderate income non-resident students,” Ishop wrote. “Socioeconomic diversity is not limited to residents who have had need met for many years and now also have the benefits of the Go Blue Guarantee, but also to ensuring that our non-resident population is also economically diverse.”

The Washington Post, however, reported that 15 percent of undergraduate students at the University qualify for Pell grants, while other public universities have double or triple the proportion of student who qualify for this type of aid. According to the University Office of Financial Aid, a Pell grant is funded through the US Department of Education and based on student need.

In response, University President Mark Schlissel told The Washington Post he wanted the Pell share percentage at the University to be “over 20 at least before I’m done.”

In addition to increasing the Pell share, Ishop stated other financial assistance programs, such as the Go Blue Guarantee, have been implemented to continue to improve the capability of attendance for qualified students — regardless of whether these students are coming from the state of Michigan or not. The Go Blue Guarantee, an initiative started by the University last year, grants four years of tuition for any in-state student whose family income is under $65,000. 

“Both institutional policies such as the Go Blue Guarantee and funding for low and moderate income families from out-of-state are now in place allowing the admissions and recruitment processes to better yield highly qualified students for whom Michigan may have been financially out of reach,” Ishop wrote. “We are currently identifying partnerships with community-based organizations, schools and others to assist with identifying and recruiting students to Michigan.”