Out-of-state student population continues to grow at Alabama

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Adam Dodson

In recent years, The University of Alabama has seen a huge upward trend in students from outside the state of Alabama. Known as the “flagship” University for the state, UA traditionally has appealed to and attracted more in-state students than out-of-state students. However, the University of Alabama’s student population is now 53% out-of-state and 43% in state, a huge change from the norm.

Alabama is not alone in states seeing their “flagship” universities change the students they target and attract to campus. Over 40 of these 50 universities have seen a significant increase in their out-of-state enrollment. Motivation for this change spread throughout the nation, however UA is seeing that the higher number of students outside of Alabama seems to have financial and cultural benefits.

“UA’s out-of-state population has had a positive effect on providing additional financial support and enrollment growth that has expanded our student body and enhanced our honors college,” said Monica Watts, Associate Vice President of UA’s Division of Strategic Communications. “The diversity – in culture, religion, experience, race, ethnicity, and so much more – provides our campus community with a rich environment students might not find elsewhere.”

The financial benefit for the University is shown in the cost of tuition, where out-of-state students pay on average $27,750 a semester while in-state students pay $11,270. Combine higher tuition costs with a large increase in out-of-state students and the result is an increase in revenue for the University.

Even if motivation for increasing out-of-state population is strictly financial, the effect it has had on the culture of UA is evident, as the University is now attracting students from areas that it never has before.

“The surge of out-of-state students has taken Alabama from being simply another state flagship university,” said Gerald Fraas, a junior at UA who is originally from Hartford, South Dakota. “They went from catering to a traditional population of in-state students to being a national university where a diversity of voices, interests, and passions are allowed to speak and be heard.”

Although an increase in out-of-state students appears to be the trend nationwide, The University of Alabama is not going to ignore their in-state students either. The in-state students, also known as the “traditional” students, are now the minority on campus, but still have the benefit of lower tuition and travel costs. Watts has also said that the University has plans for targeting efforts designed for reassuring in-state students that UA should be their first choice.

In-state students may have mixed emotions about what the rising out-of-state population means for them, but some have embraced the idea and see the positives that have come out of it.

“There would be no way to pull from just Alabama students and get the statistics we have; not on things like median ACT scores,” said Kyle Campbell, a graduate student at UA from Madison, Alabama.  “I also think it’s hard to imagine Greek integration going as smoothly as it did in the last three years without a large out-of-state population.”

The University of Alabama has seen average ACT and SAT scores increase to record numbers, while enrollment continues to set record-highs.