COLUMBIA — For the first time in its history, MU has more applications from out-of-state students than from Missouri residents, according to data released Wednesday by the university.
MU increased its out-of-state recruiting efforts in response to a projected decline in the number of Missouri high school graduates, said Ann Korschgen, vice provost for enrollment management.
In 2011, MU hired a full-time admissions representative to recruit in Minneapolis and Denver, she said. Full-time Dallas and Chicago regional representatives were hired in 2003, and a second Chicago representative was added in 2007.
As the university's athletic program moves into the Southeastern Conference, the office might look into hiring full-time representatives in Atlanta and other southern cities, Korschgen said.
Although the university's athletic reputation might help the numbers a bit, the announcement that MU is moving to the SEC did not have a big effect on applications this year.
State cuts to higher education funding are not the cause of heightened out-of-state recruiting efforts, Korschgen said.
"However, the increase in non-resident students has certainly helped us fiscally during this time of the budget cuts," she said.
MU saw a large number of students from Illinois apply — 1,155 more freshmen than last year.
"We believe that the cost of tuition at the University of Illinois has helped us attract students from that state," Korschgen said.
Tuition, fees, books and room and board at the University of Illinois amount to about $24,039 per year for students taking 12 or more credit hours and have been increasing for each freshman class since 2006. The same costs for a non-resident student at MU are about $28,546 for fall and spring semesters, but additional school-specific fees at Illinois can make the total cost higher. MU scholarships such as the Mark Twain Nonresident Scholarship seem to help offset MU's price tag.
Korschgen said the new Sport Management program at the School of Natural Resources is a big factor in that school’s spike in applications this year. The school has received 237 freshman and transfer applications this year, compared to 179 last year and 172 two years ago.
The Health Sciences program in the School of Health Professions has boosted applications to that school, she said.
Korschgen said her office is projecting that enrollment will be at an all-time high for the 2012-13 school year. About 41 percent of accepted applicants are likely to enroll at MU. However, applicants from out of state are less likely to enroll than Missouri residents, Korschgen said. About 25 to 30 percent of non-resident applicants enroll compared to 35 to 42 percent of resident applicants.
There’s no chance of MU capping enrollment at this time, because it doesn’t seem to be in the best interest of the state.
"Generally speaking, a larger university means having a greater impact upon the state and nation including educating more people who will become good citizens and alumni," she said.
Korschgen said MU has had the highest retention and graduation rates in its history in the past three years, in addition to record enrollment. If these indicators stop showing progress, the university might consider trying to reduce growth.
"If we find that it is not in the best interest of students for MU to keep growing, we will reassess our recruitment efforts," she said.
The university also saw an increase in applications from minority students this year. Applications from black first-time college students increased by 574 from this time last year — from 1,781 to 2,355 — and applications from Hispanic first-time college students increased by 212 — from 679 to 891.
Korschgen said the university makes recruiting minority students a priority.
"Among other things, we have a diversity-focused recruiter, we have a special recruitment event for prospective minority students and we have a cadre of MU minority students, called the United Ambassadors, who help us with making individualized contact with prospective students as well as hosting special events," she said.