Rutgers plans to recruit more out-of-state students to keep tuition down
The University’s strategic plan for “the new Rutgers” calls for an increase in international and out-of-state students.
As a result of Trenton divesting in public education, the portion of the operating budget provided by state funding has been steadily decreasing. To make up for this and generate revenue, the University is accepting more students who can pay out-of-state tuition, which is more than double that of in-state tuition.
At about 17 percent of Rutgers’ student body now, these two groups will slowly increase during the next four to five years and ultimately be capped off at about 25 percent, said Vice President for Enrollment Management Courtney McAnuff.
McAnuff said that the basic philosophy in many states is that universities can generate their own revenue because they charge tuition, and since state dollars are limited in New Jersey, the money ends up being allocated to divisions other than education that do not have that ability.
“What we’re trying to do is balance the revenue that comes in,” McAnuff said. “Tuition increase has been kept very small, generally under one and a half percent pretty much, and so part of it is to generate the revenue to operate the schools and other things.”
A significant increase in tuition is generally a way to solve the revenue issue, but McAnuff said that it is important to the University to generate this revenue without doing so, which is why accepting more out-of-state and international students necessary.
To combat the increasingly congested and dense population in New Brunswick, which is bound to worsen as a result of accepting more students, he said that the University has decreased the number of admitted first-year students.
The thought is that by reducing the number of first-year students coming in by about 2 percent each year, the number of students actually in New Brunswick will begin to decrease as students “age out,” and this will relieve the pressure.
Much of this is a part of a deliberate process to improve the student experience in New Brunswick, McAnuff said.
Another reason the University is attempting to reduce the size of the student body is to manage the school’s growth more efficiently, he said.
Even while reducing the size of the incoming student class, the number of students is still growing. This is because each year, better students come to Rutgers, and better students tend to return each year until graduation at higher rates, McAnuff said.
At 11 percent out-of-state students, Rutgers has the lowest out of state enrollment number in the Big Ten by far. Big Ten schools average in the high 30 percents.
“We will probably always stay below the Big Ten average because our primary obligation is to serve New Jersey citizens, but the extra revenue that we generate allows us to award more aid to New Jersey students,” he said.
Out-of-state students, when accepted, go into the same federal aid pool as in-state students, but they do not get state grants, McAnuff said. This results in their unmet financial need being much larger.
He said that the typical student from out-of-state is one that can pay a lot of their own frate, and that many of them have academic scholarships. The same goes for international students. Since they are not citizens, they rarely get strong financial aid.
Rutgers recruits primarily in about six states and 20 foreign countries, he said. These states include California, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Illinois.
New Jersey is also the biggest exporter of students to other states, McAnuff said. Thirty-three thousand students leave New Jersey to go out of state each year.
“One of the big goals, say, of the Honors College, is to keep more of the top students in New Jersey at Rutgers,” he said. “That’s been very effective in keeping some of those top students here.”
McAnuff said that most schools are seeing a decline in international student applications because of politics.
“I’m not sure how that’s going to pan out or what the (political) climate is going to do, but above all families want safety for their children above even the academics. If they perceive they’re not welcome somewhere, that’s going to be a big issue,” he said.
Applications from English-speaking foreign countries are actually up right now at Rutgers, with the exception of Great Britain, which McAnuff said is probably a result of "Brexit."
“Rutgers has been a great destination for international students,” he said. “A world class University has to reflect the world. Part of the learning experience is being in a classroom with people with views different from yourself.”
What separates Rutgers graduates from that of other schools is their ability to work with people from all cultures and viewpoints, McAnuff said.
Zhitong Zhao, a School of Engineering senior, is an international exchange student from China.
China is the number one sender of students to Rutgers, with over 3,600 total.
Zhao said that he wanted to come to the United States to study because of the quality of education.
“In China there are also good schools, but there are too many people to compete. You have to invest so much time into it,” he said. “The academic environment is better here.”
Being surrounded by so many different types of people with different perspectives is very helpful, he said. Zhao is a part of the Aresty Research program and said that his instructor is from Northern Europe and his partner is from Portland, Oregon.
Even beyond the social aspect of getting to know people from all over the world, diversity can have a big impact on the academic environment as well, he said.
Zhao said that the area Rutgers is located in is very attractive. He has a friend who is going to a very rural university located in the inland United States near the center of the country, and the excitement does not compare to that of Rutgers
“If Rutgers wants to get famous all over the world, it has to accept people from all over the world,” Zhao said.