- The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga will offer students from nine nearby states a tuition discount beginning this fall, expanding a regional tuition credit that already applied to students from certain areas of Georgia and Alabama.
- University officials told the Chattanooga Times Free Press, which first reported the news, that the move aims to boost enrollment and attract talent to the region.
- However, as enrollment concerns loom, public colleges have come under fire for their focus on recruiting out-of-state students.
Beginning this fall, students who live in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Virginia, and North and South Carolina won't pay UT Chattanooga's full out-of-state tuition rate of about $26,000 a year, the Free Press reported. About 6% of roughly 10,200 undergraduates enrolled at the university in the fall of 2018 hailed from outside Tennessee, according to federal data.
They'll instead be charged $18,000 annually, which is still more than the roughly $10,000 that in-state, full-time undergraduate students pay, according to the publication. University spokesperson Shawn Ryan told Education Dive in an email that it had not issued a public release about the tuition changes, but he verified the information in the Free Press' report.
Amid enrollment concerns, college and systems nationwide have moved to lower tuition for out-of-state students. One way they've done so is through state exchange programs, which have proved popular.
By joining programs like Western Undergraduate Exchange and the Midwest Student Exchange, for instance, institutions can ensure that out-of-state students won't pay more than 150% of in-state tuition.
States have also struck deals with their neighbors. Minnesota has agreements to offer lower tuition to students from Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota, as well as a Canadian province and one Iowa community college.
And students in Washington, D.C., can get up to $10,000 to attend a public university elsewhere in the U.S. or its territories through the D.C. Tuition Assistance Grant.
Colleges in many parts of the country are doing this in part to get ahead of an expected drop off in the number of high school graduates over the next decade. But subsidizing out-of-state students hasn't been viewed favorably, especially as research shows some public institutions may not be readily affordable to low-income students who reside in that state.
The attention on out-of-state students stems partly from a push by institutions to raise their profiles — in addition to growing their enrollment — amid a decline in state support over the last decade, explained New America, a left-leaning think tank, in a recent analysis. Since 2014, it found, spending growth in non-need-based aid has outpaced that of need-based aid at public institutions.
Tennessee has tried to be deliberate about increasing college access for its residents, offering a broad free-tuition scholarship. The state's former governor sought to have 55% of its residents earn a college degree or certificate by 2025.