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Forbes tips on out-of-state apps at State Universities

The Latest (Shhhh! –Secret) College Admissions Trend

The college admission season is gearing up in full- force, and it promises to be just as crazily competitive as last year.  Understandably, families are searching for any small edge they can find.  One of best-kept secrets in college admissions this coming year is that many top state universities will be admitting more out-of-state applicants than they ever have.

This opens up a whole new group of schools that were formerly much more difficult to get into.  We’re talking about great schools , sometimes lots more openings, and for a few campuses, slightly easier academic standards!

For example, at the University of Illinois last year, fully 27% of its freshman came from out-of-state.  That was up from 19% just five years ago.  (And it doesn’t include the 17% of the freshman class who were foreigners.)   Similarly, the University of Washington had an entering class in 2010 of 27% out-of-staters.  This too was up from 19% just three years earlier.

The University of Virginia tries to maintain a student body comprised of 30% out-of-state students.  But last year it edged up to over 33%.  And the University of Michigan is up to 40% out-of-staters, compared with 37% five years ago.

Even colleges that shunned out-of-state students for years are showing a marked receptivity.  The University of California’s top campuses – Berkeley and UCLA – have doubled and even tripled the number of out-of-state kids.  At UCLA, the total percentage of out-of-state kids is still relatively low:  only about 7% of last year’s entering class.  But at Berkeley, it was a whopping 19% and wit will grow to 20% this year, according to Janet Gilmore, a spokesperson for the University.   Five years ago, the percentage of out-of-state students at Berkeley was only 5%.

At most of these world-class universities admission is still very selective.  The acceptance for out-of-state students was only 30% last year.  But that was still better than what California residents experienced, which was a 21% acceptance rate.  And it even got a tad bit easier for out-of-staters compared to previous years.  Five years ago out-of-staters applying to UCLA were admitted only 21% of the time, compared to their California counterparts who saw a 23% admit rate.

At Berkeley, 39% of out-of-state applicants received the proverbial fat envelope, compared to only  24% of California residents.  And compared to five years ago, when out-of-state kids saw a 22% acceptance rate at Berkeley – compared to in-staters 25% — the trend is looking good for out-of-state applicants.

What’s driving this statistically significant advantage?  Money mostly.

As states continue to weather the financial crisis, they are trimming state budgets.  And expenditures to their prestigious state-run universities have taken a hit.  Consequently, schools have consciously – and sometimes publicly – increased the number of higher-tuition-paying out-of-state students.

Admission officers readily admit that the higher out-of-state tuitions help subsidize in-state kids.  But admission deans at all top colleges seek geographic diversity – as well as many other types of diversity beyond racial – in putting together their entering class.

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