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The Blue & Gray Press | August 18, 2019

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Decline in out-of-state applicants


University of Mary Washington’s out-of-state students pay 137 percent of the in-state students’ tuition cost, which is lower than the average of 153 percent for out-of-state tuition for Virginia universities.

Several factors determine tuition and fee rates, including state funding, state financing policy and enrollment, according to Executive Director of Budget and Financial Analysis Paul Messplay.

UMW has seen a decline in the number of out-of-state students attending the university, causing an increase of in-state tuition to make up for lost funds, according to Rick Pearce, vice president for administration and finance.

Some out-of-state students are not familiar with UMW, which may increase the chance of people choosing a nationally or internationally known school, such as the University of Virginia or College of William & Mary, said Pearce.

Because UMW is not well known, the administration is trying to get the school’s name more recognition.

“We work really hard to get our name out there in those states, but at the same time they won’t even look at us if the cost is not within striking distance of what they would be paying in their states,” said Pearce.

“[UMW] has a reputation for being an all-female campus. If there were more publicity with regard to promoting the school, then perhaps attendance rates for those out-of-state would not suffer,” said David Tapia, a resident of Maryland.

Under Virginia law, UMW must charge full price for out-of-state students. In-state students pay half of that amount and the state helps pay the other half. Out-of-state tuition helps subsidize the in-state tuition, according to Pearce.

The Commonwealth of Virginia wants to increase the number of in-state students, but they don’t generate as much revenue as out-of-state students, according to Pearce.

Additionally, UMW has been trying to attract more international students.

“We like to have some international students because it just adds to the diversification on campus and it’s kind of cool to have folks from different places,” said Pearce. “If you have people from just Northern Virginia, Richmond or Hampton, it just doesn’t give you the same diversity as if you have those people plus people from Maryland, Pennsylvania, Saudi Arabia and South Korea, because that’s what the world is.”

The average tuition cost for out-of-state students in Virginia is $25,145 and at UMW is $21,560, according to the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.

“We have tried to hold the prices down and make us more competitive for the schools that the kids are going to in their home states,” said Pearce.

UMW is trying to stay in the middle of typical tuition costs for students. With the decline of out-of state-students, UMW must collect necessary funds from in-state students.

This tuition money helps fund projects such as the new Campus Center.

Schools in other states have put a lot of money into their schools to attract their in-state students by adding new buildings, new resident halls, new dining halls and specialty majors, according to Pearce.

“Losing out-of-state students has had a tremendous impact on our revenue and the amount that we have to charge in-state students,” said Pearce.