UC Tuition for Out-of-State Students and its Impact on Diversity

An article in the Los Angeles Times last week highlighted an ongoing debate within the University of California system:  should the price of a UC education increase even more for out-of-state students, who currently pay nearly $50,000 per year?

The article notes that the UC out-of-state tuition is already higher than tuition for California students who choose to attend the Universities of Wisconsin, Arizona and Washington, but not as high as Michigan or the University of Virginia.

UC President Janet Napolitano has proposed an across-the-board increase for all UC students, including state residents, who currently pay about $32,000 (including room and board, books, all costs) to attend a UC campus.  State legislators don’t love this idea, and would rather raise the price for students whose parents can’t vote them out of office.  Individual campus chancellors worry that this might limit the number of out-of-state students they can attract.  How high can the price go before it will discourage out-of-staters from coming to UCs?

When we college advisors visit public universities in other states,  we almost always ask about the in-state vs. out-of-state population.  We ask this because one of the things that some people value in higher education is diversity, which means different things to different people.  To some, it may mean ethnic or gender diversity.  Others expect that their children’s college experience will involve meeting people from all over the country, and all over the world.  When the in-state population is 90% or more, we wrinkle up our noses and wonder, would a student from my state be comfortable being in such a minority here?

While I can’t verify the accuracy of this list (nor the source of the data), think about what you want for your child.  Would you want to send him/her to a school where only 3-4% of the students – or less – are from somewhere other than the home state?  How about 12% (Colorado Mesa) or 19% (Colorado State University)?  If you send your child to Georgia Tech or Indiana, will s/he have a more enriching experience because fully 30% of the students are from out of state?

The question of tuition for out-of-state students is a careful algorithm that has to take into account the tipping point – the price that will discourage out-of-state students from coming – as well as the impact/benefit that going to college in a geographically diverse environment has on students.

Feel free to share your opinion on this issue in the comments below, or on our Facebook page!

The photo in the header of this page is the iconic Sather Gate at UC Berkeley.  Evelyn took this photo during a visit to UC Berkeley in 2012.

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