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PBA Home > CU-Boulder Tuition & Aid Advisory Board (TAAB) > The role of out of state students at CU Boulder

CU-Boulder Tuition & Aid Advisory Board (TAAB)

The role of out of state students at CU Boulder
Background and statistics
February 2005

The costs of providing a quality education are about the same for every research university, whether it be a private school, like Stanford or Duke; or a public, like Virginia, Michigan or Colorado. These universities are competing for the same excellent faculty and staff; they pay the same construction costs for labs, classrooms and dorms; and they pay similar rates for utilities, insurance and library books. The national average for providing a quality education at a major university is currently about $18,000-$25,000 per year, not including room and board or students' personal costs.

Private schools recover these costs by charging tuitions ranging from $20,000 up to $30,000 or more per year. Tuition received in excess of costs is typically redistributed as financial aid for students from lower income families, redirected into endowments to fund new initiatives, or used for construction. Despite the high price, admission to these institutions has never been more competitive.

The same costs apply to public universities, but there is an expectation that these costs will be subsidized by the state, resulting in lower tuition for state residents. Across the country, states provide $8,000-$10,000 per year on average for each in-state student to subsidize operations. As a result, tuition and fees for in-state residents at state research universities average around $7,000 a year, but exceed $10,000 at some of the best public colleges -- a bargain compared with private tuition prices.

At the University of Colorado Boulder, the faculty and staff have worked hard for many years to offer an education that on par with some of the best universities in the country. The campus has been extraordinarily efficient, providing a valuable undergraduate degree for among the lowest costs to the state and to Colorado students of any college in the country.

The State of Colorado currently provides a $3,150 subsidy per in-state student, down from over $5,000 a few years ago. The new College Opportunity Fund will set this subsidy at $2,400 beginning in July 2005 - over $7,500 below the national average. Tuition at CU-Boulder is $3,500 a year, also several thousand dollars below the national average. At the same time, the State of Colorado ranks as the 7th highest in per capita income in the United States.

If neither the State of Colorado nor in-state student tuition covers the average cost of education at CU-Boulder, what does? Tuition from out of state students, particularly out of state undergraduates who enter CU-Boulder as new freshmen.

In 2004-05 out-of-state undergraduates pay $20,592 per year in tuition - almost six times as much as the $3,480 paid by in-state undergraduates. The 32% of undergraduates from outside Colorado provide almost two-thirds of total tuition revenue each year - over $160 million in fiscal year 2004. This compares to $56 million from the State of Colorado for all in-state students (including law, master's, and PhD students), and about $72 million in tuition from all in-state students. Thus tuition from out-of-state undergraduates alone represents 52% of CU-Boulder's total unrestricted student-based funding.

While recent cuts in State funding have aggravated the situation, CU-Boulder has depended on tuition from out of state undergraduates for years to subsidize costs paid at most public universities by the State and in-state students.

This is a dangerous dependence. The risk of relying on one-third of our students for two-thirds of our revenue is underlined this year, when applications for freshman admission from out of state students have declined for the second year in a row.

The published deadline for freshman applications for fall was January 15. This was extended to February 15. At this point we have 9,070 applications, down 23% from the 11,750 we had at this time last year, down 31% from the 13,220 we had at this time in 2003. Applications from Colorado students are 7% lower than last year, when they were even with 2003.

In fall 2004 2,155 or 42% of entering fall freshmen were from out of state. They came from high schools in California, Texas, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, and every other state in the US.

If we need 2,200-2,500 out of state freshmen to balance the budget, and we have 9,000 applications, why is there a problem? Not all applicants submit complete credentials - about 5% do not. Not all applicants who submit credentials are qualified for admission - we admit only applicants with a good chance of succeeding at CU-Boulder, and another 5-10% of applicants do not meet our qualifications. Finally, those we do admit apply to an average of 5.5 schools (including CU-Boulder), and only one in five of those we admit actually enroll.

Current projections place the revenue loss from the downturn in out of state applications at about $15 million in 2005-06. This places additional pressure on the State and in-state students to cover more of the costs of educating in-state students - costs that have historically been subsidized by out of state students. For example, if in-state tuition and state support per resident student were at national averages for public research universities, it would generate more than $100 million in additional revenue.

We suspect our applications have declined in recent years due to the recession, our high out of state tuition, falling high school graduate populations in some parts of the country (though not in the West), increasing competition from other state research universities, and perhaps the negative national publicity surrounding CU athletic programs. We have had cancellations for fall 2005 in the last two weeks, citing the media coverage of Ward Churchill's writings. These have come from applicants from both Colorado and other states. We are unable to judge the effect of such cancellations until after the May 1 confirmation deadline for freshmen.

Relevant websites

Note: On CU-Boulder websites the words "resident" and "non-resident," or R and N, are generally used rather than in-state and out of state.

PBA: L:\ir\emgt\tui\NRPoints.doc

Last revision 08/15/13

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