Q. We draw a lot of our population from out-of-state students, how might this impact our out-of-state enrollment? Also, we keep hearing that students will want to stay “closer to home,” but what does that mean?
At the present, it is hard for us to get at how enrollment is actually going to change; it is just too early to tell. Students are still in the midst of a very emotional reaction to what is going on and many do not yet know how that is going to shake out, except to say that something is going to change. We do know that this is going to have a financial impact and the usual groups of students who are financially impacted are going to be the same groups of students who are always financially impacted.
Therefore, on the out-of-state dimension, there are going to be two ways that this works. One, is that there will be students who can no longer afford to make an out-of-state choice. Some middle class or first generation families or families who were sort of on the bubble of being able to afford to attend out-of-state to begin with, will likely pull back. These families will decide that it is a little bit too expensive to make an out-state-choice and they will drift to an in-state public instead.
The second dimension in play is a psychological element. Our survey data does not directly confirm this yet, but given the uncertainty about this illness and how quickly it has curbed travel, there is probably a psychological dimension here where some people are just going to want to stay closer to home. This is something that we will be testing more in our Survey of Admitted Students.
So how do you adjust your strategy of looking at out-of-state markets? One option is to focus on more regional out-of-state students who are a little bit closer to home. Another might be to look more closely at a student’s ability to pay, or at your financial aid strategy, or at your tuition waivers policy. These are the two dimensions to consider for out-of-state students for the moment.
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