I have spent this last semester sharing my experiences of being an out-of-state student. But just how many of us are there?

This year was the first time in 15 years that a majority of students at the University were not from Michigan, but just barely. Of all the students enrolled in graduate or undergraduate programs at the University, 49.3 percent of students came from Michigan. The other 50.7 percent are a mixture of out-of-state and foreign students.

Almost six percent of students at the University are foreign students from China. This is the highest represented region outside of Michigan. The most highly represented state in the United States is California, with 5.5 percent of students hailing from the Golden State. Another five percent are from New York, followed by Illinois and New Jersey as the next-most represented states.

So, there are tons of non-Michiganders who call this place hoMe for eight months of the year, and that number has been steadily increasing for the past decade. From 2000 to 2009, the number of in-state students held at around 56 percent. When the University switched to the Common Application in 2009, the number of out-of-staters jumped, causing the in-state population to drop to 53.9 percent, and it has continued to decrease since.

I find value in having a large out-of-state population. I believe that having out-of-state students is important for any college campus. In my opinion, college is supposed to be about having new learning experiences you could not have had in your hometown and being exposed to new and different people as well as new and different ideas. College is about breaking out of your bubble and meeting people from different backgrounds in order to learn outside of a lecture hall. When I made my decision to come the University, this was a huge factor in that decision.

I wanted to live somewhere I had never experienced, and I wanted to interact with people who were different from the people I had spent the past 18 years with. I wanted to meet people from new places and, because of the out-of-state population, I have. From Michigan to Georgia to Colorado to China, I have interacted with and been exposed to different lifestyles and ideas. Conversations with students from different backgrounds have required me to tweak some of my own beliefs, but they have also made me more assured of other beliefs.

However, my reasons for appreciating a large out-of-state population may not be the same as the University’s. As state funding for many public schools started to decline in the 2000s, many schools have turned to high-tuition-paying out-of-state students to make up for this decline. A study showed that a 10-percent decrease in in-state monetary support correlated with a 2.7-percent increase in out-of-state enrollment. At public research institutions like the University, the increase jumped to 4.6 percent.

As an out-of-state student, I don’t like the idea that I am being used for my higher tuition costs. It makes me question whether I would have been admitted to the University if I were an in-state student. According to the above data, my money is going to make up for the lack of state funding — going toward day-to-day operations of the University that used to be funded by the state. I would hope that part of my higher costs is going toward financial aid. Giving the opportunity of education, and hopefully the chance at a better life, to a student of lesser means is an extremely important feature of our higher educational system that I fully support. But the idea that my higher costs are being used for this purpose doesn’t seem to be the case.

A study here at the University showed that this increase in out-of-state students is also associated with a decline in low-income or minority students who hypothetically would cost the University money in financial aid.

A diverse student body comes in many forms — not just from what state you came from, but also a person’s socioeconomic background. I would hope that the University would be able to create a student body with both in order to give the most qualified students, regardless of paying ability, the best education and college experience.

Jesse Klein can be reached at jekle@umich.edu.

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