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Higher-ed leaders say increasing out-of-state enrollment not just about money

BY KRISTEN EAST | SEPTEMBER 27, 2011 7:20 AM

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The University of Iowa will likely continue to boost the number of out-of-state students on campus but officials say that's more than just a financial ploy.

"We benefit from the rich mix of students that come here and make [the UI] a more vibrant place," said Michael Barron, the UI assistant provost for Admissions. "I think it would be a misrepresentation to think that it's only about the money. We offer a pretty darn good education here."

In her State of the University address earlier this month, UI President Sally Mason said tuition from out-of-state students will continue to play an important role in the university's budget as state appropriations dwindle.

And the UIisn't alone in its dependence on out-of-state money. According to the recently-released Survey of College and University Admission Directors. The survey, published in Inside Higher Ed this year, showed several four-year colleges admitted to relying heavily on the funds from out-of-state, or "full-pay," students.

But UI officials say it isn't all about the money. Barron said out-of-state students help to diversify the university.

"We have room to reach out to out-of-state and international students," Barron said. "One of the goals there is to create an environment on campus that more closely mirrors the world in which our students will go to work."

More than half of this year's freshman class is made up of out-of-state and international students. Forty-five percent of the freshmen are from Iowa, 44 percent are from out-of-state, and 11 percent are international students.

The UI has historically worked with contiguous states, but it also reaches out to prospective students who "resonate well" with the Iowa message, Barron said.

The freshman class includes students from 44 states, including California, Florida, Ohio, and Texas.
Barron said the UI has a lot of techniques to attract prospective students, including using social media, the university's website, and a telephone team.

Jake Christensen, a UI admission counselor, said the UI does not operate any permanent admission centers outside the state of Iowa or the UI Admission Office. Instead, admission counselors travel to specific regional locations throughout the year.

To ease the admissions process for international students, the UI website is translated into six or seven languages, Barron said. The top four international countries are China, South Korea, India, and Canada.

"We try to have a very robust international section on our webpage," Barron said. "International students can't come to visit — it's unrealistic. They really rely on online information and word of mouth."

Increases in out-of-state enrollment have affected scholarship and grant funds.

Mason said the UI increased the funds set aside for scholarship funds from $33 million in the 2009-10 school year to $46 million in 2011-12.

The UI ultimately had approximately 186,000 prospective students for the 2011-12 year, Barron said. All of those students received at least one contact from the university. The UI received roughly 19,000 applications and ended up with 4,565 first-year students.

Mark Warner, the director of UI Student Financial Aid, Warner attributes the large increase in funds to the growth in the number of students.

"We've had two record freshman classes, and our overall enrollment has increased over the past two years," he said. "In large part, it's been the growth of our student populations, increase in the diversity of our populations, and we've also enhanced the number of high-quality students."


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