Out-of-state tuition adds to University revenue

The University’s need for more money from students to make up for declining state funds has been one of the driving factors in increasing enrollment of non-Illinois students over recent years.

Aside from goals to increase diversity, Stacey Kostell, director of undergraduate admissions, said the added funds the University receives from out-of-state tuition rates is one of the driving forces for increases in international and out-of-state enrollment. Since 2007, the proportion of non-Illinois students enrolled in their first year has doubled from 12 percent to 24 percent of the total entering class, according to enrollment data from the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.

“We don’t receive the same funding from the state of Illinois that we used to,” Kostell said. “So the additional revenue that this (the increase in out-of-state student enrollment) brings to our campus really does benefit the University and all of our students.”

While in-state freshmen have to pay $11,636 for tuition this academic year, out-of-state students pay $25,778. And, with an additional $750 fee, the international student tuition rate is set at $26,578.

When the University’s budget for the 2013 fiscal year was approved at the board of trustees meeting in September, Walter Knorr, University vice president and chief financial officer, announced that the state’s appropriation had decreased 6 percent from last year. 

At the time, Knorr said the University was “continuing to deal with the uncertainty of the state situation,” as the state still owed the University $325 million.

However, revenue from tuition and institutional funds, also called unrestricted funds, rose about 2 percent from the previous year. Although the additional $40 million collected in tuition does not fully compensate for the decline in state funds, Knorr said the unrestricted funds make up the “core academic budget” for the University.

The size of each freshman class steadily increased until this fall, when it fell from 7,255 students to 6,932. But the space taken up by Illinois students has decreased by more than 17 percent since 2006, and the increase in class size is reflected most in non-Illinois students, whose numbers have more than doubled since 2006. 

In addition to paying tuition that is more than double that of an in-state student, international students are not eligible for financial aid, said Daniel Mann, director of financial aid. Although some countries provide funding for students to attend college in the U.S., international students must prove they are financially capable of attending the University.

“As part of the admission process, students have to be able to demonstrate that they have enough money and resources to study here and pay the full tuition rate before they can enroll,” Mann said.

Even if an international student receives a scholarship from an outside source, the University’s revenue will not be affected, Mann said. 

Out-of-state domestic students are eligible for financial aid, and Kostell said the University does its best to make sure students are receiving an affordable education; an additional $12 million was added to the distribution of financial aid this year. But, she added, the University’s first priority is to its in-state students.

“We have limited financial aid and scholarship resources here, so we believe those should go to our Illinois students first,” she said. 

Kostell said she does not predict a large increase in international freshmen in the coming years, as the numbers have been “comfortably consistent” at around 900 new international students the last three years. 

But depending on the applicant pool, there could be a slight increase in domestic out-of-state students, she said. But for now, the University is content with the number of Illinois residents being at about 76 percent of the freshmen student population. 

“Certainly, we try to admit the best students that apply, but we always want to make sure we have adequate space for Illinois residents,” Kostell said. 

Lauren can be reached at rohr2@dailyillini.com.