WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — The number of Indiana students attending Purdue and Indiana universities is falling as the state-funded schools take their recruiting out of state to combat a decline in high school graduates.
Nearly half of this year’s freshman class at Purdue University came from outside Indiana, and IU saw a record 43.5 percent of the freshmen at its Bloomington campus come from other states, the Indianapolis Business Journal reported.
The trend, especially at Purdue, is likely to draw scrutiny from lawmakers as they craft Indiana’s next budget. Purdue’s out-of-state student rate of 48 percent is higher than even the nationally focused University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, which draws 45 percent of its freshmen from outside Michigan.
“I’m concerned,” said Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee. “Both of those universities, since their inception, were started for the benefit of Indiana (residents) and Indiana students. So we need to be true to those missions.”
For universities, out-of-state students are a lucrative way to make up for cuts in state funding.
At Purdue, out-of-state and international students pay nearly $29,000 in tuition and fees per year, compared with nearly $10,000 for Indiana residents.
Purdue would have received $14 million less this year in tuition and fees if it had maintained its previous rate of 34 percent of freshmen from out of state.
Purdue President Mitch Daniels, who oversaw education cuts while serving as governor, says out-of-state students help Purdue’s finances and benefit the entire state.
“There is a very large benefit that Purdue attracts people from around the country and around the world,” Daniels said. “This is a brain-gain opportunity.”
But critics say using out-of-state students to shore up the bottom line sends the wrong message and leaves in-state students with less chance of getting in to public universities.
Daniels contends Hoosiers will remain the majority of undergraduate students in West Lafayette.
“As we grow the student body, the intent is that we would grow by more Hoosiers. That’s our objective,” Daniels said.
Pam Horne, associate vice provost for enrollment management, said Purdue isn’t intentionally trying to push its out-of-state enrollment above 50 percent. But she said it’s easier to find qualified applicants from out of state.
“It’s important that Indiana students that are a good fit for Purdue, that we maintain capacity for them. But students do need to be prepared for what is a very challenging education,” Horne said. “We want them to be competitive with the student from L.A., the student from Hong Kong, the student from Shanghai.”
Kenley said he’d like to have “at least half” the freshman class at state-funded schools come from Indiana but said further discussions are needed between lawmakers and universities.
“The Legislature does have an interest in what those ratios are,” Kenley said. “That’s probably something that we will try to discuss and emphasize with them.”