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CU-Boulder Tuition & Aid Advisory Board (TAAB)
The role of out of state students at CU Boulder
Background and statistics
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
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
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
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.
- CU-Boulder enrollment over time: Degree-seeking
students by graduate/undergraduate, Colorado residency, and new/continuing, with new freshmen and transfers
From this site, total undergraduates:
- Freshman applications over time: Also includes
academic preparation measures
From this website, applications for fall freshman admission
- State appropriations per in-state student and in-state
undergraduate tuition, CU-Boulder and peers
- CU-Boulder tuition and fees
- The Cost of a Quality Education: How Much and Who Pays
Inside CU, January 25, 2005
By Ric Porreca, Senior Vice Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer, CU-Boulder
This article served as the basis for the first several paragraphs of this document.