Saturday, December 17, 2016

Bill Crawford: Should we recruit more out of state students?

“USM, seeking students, reduces out-of-state tuition,” read the recent newspaper headline.

“The idea is to reverse a 2,000-student enrollment dip by pricing a USM education below some public universities in nearby states, and attract enough high-schoolers from Houston, Dallas and San Antonio to raise overall revenue,” explained the Clarion-Ledger story. USM cut annual tuition for out-of-state students by 40%, from $16,529 to $9,964.

Four years ago this change would have been illegal. Until 2012, state law required Mississippi’s universities to charge out-of-state students “not be less than the average cost per student from appropriated funds.” That would be the $16,529 figure.

In 2012, legislators amended the law to give the IHL Board the authority to waive this requirement: “The Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning may, in its discretion, consider and grant requests to approve institution specific policies permitting the waiver of out-of-state tuition when such an official request is made by the president or chancellor of the institution and when such request is determined by the board to be fiscally responsible and in accordance with the educational mission of the requesting institution.”

The rationale of the old law was that state taxpayers should not subsidize tuition for out-of-state students. That is still the law with regard to community colleges (with limited exceptions).

The argument over subsidizing tuition for out-of-state students is an old one. Ole Miss has argued for decades that out-of-state students, like tourists, bring money into the state. Economic impact statements were composed to back up this argument.

Since the 2012 law was passed, out-of-state students have caused most of the enrollment growth among universities. From 2009 through 2014 (latest published IHL numbers), total headcount enrollment increased from 73,712 to 79,704. However, in-state enrollment fell slightly from 58,453 to 58,175. Out-of-state enrollment at our two largest and growing universities, Ole Miss and Mississippi State, is currently 41% and 34% respectively.

As universities demand higher appropriations from the Legislature and more bond money for new buildings, are legislators aware much of this will go to fund out-of-state student growth?

In 2013 IHL adopted a new formula for allocating state appropriations. The formula, driven significantly by student credit hours generated by each university, includes credit hours generated by out-of-state students, but does discount them by 15%.

Since state appropriations for universities aren’t growing significantly, the more students there are in the formula the less money each institution gets per student. Are legislators aware how much the allocation per in-state student has fallen?

The USM decision also brings to light another question. “USM has cut staff, but still has a larger university’s buildings and faculty,” the newspaper article reported.

So, is it better for the taxpayer and state to fill such unused capacity by discounting out-of-state tuition? Or would it be better to scale back and reduce capacity at shrinking universities and add capacity at growing universities?

Legislators should answer these questions in favor of Mississippi taxpayers, which is not always IHL’s priority.

Crawford is a syndicated columnist from Meridian (


Anonymous said...

One of the worst decisions in a year with plenty of bad decisions. anyone know the profile of the out of state students Southern Miss is going to recruit with lower tuition? national merit finalists looking for cheaper tuition? Or kids from New Orleans who couldn't get into LSU or Tulane and got wait listed at Louisiana Lafayette? What does that add to Mississippi? Will the legislature act? Or will a few free tickets to ball games be enough to keep IHL members and the legislature satisfied while the waste and stupidity at state universities continues unabated?

Anonymous said...

The last one.

Anonymous said...

State and Ole Miss have to go out of state and can because they have created an attractive product to quality students from Birmingham, Atlanta, Memphis, Dallas, Houston, etc. However, State and Ole Miss are looking to increase their out of state tuition because those coming help add to the bottom line because they pay about 15 grand more a year than jnnstate students.

What Southern is doing is idiotic

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, leftovers from other states are often better prepared than many of our own. We need to take as many as we can and hope that some of the sharp ones hang around.

Anonymous said...

I don't think stuffing our state universities with out of state students is a good strategy, at all. You'll see more Texas car tags tooling around on Ole Miss's campus than Mississippi tags. You think any of those out of state kids are going to choose to stay in Mississippi to live, work and raise a family?? Hell no. So what good did their attendance at our universities provide for our state? How about lowering the cost of tuition so our state universities are accessible to more in-state students and making sure we provide more hands on learning instead of theory garbage so a college degree is actually useful on day one in the workforce?

Anonymous said...

4:11 your last statement is so true....USM prez and his band of advisors are truly incompetent

Fortune Teller.. said...

Rearranging the deck chairs. None of this matters as within fifteen years, thirty at the most, there will be zero college campi and all this crap will be a distant memory.

Anonymous said...

It's about cost period, in today's world there isn't much difference in a degree from Miss Valley or Ole Miss, all a degree does is show you have the ability to learn how to do the job you were hired for.

Anonymous said...

There is always lots of talk about K-12 consolidation, but the real consolidation needs to start at the university level. We have too many four year universities for a state our size. Declining state support just increases that strain. It is time to start downsizing.

Anonymous said...

"...all a degree does is show you have the ability to learn how to do the job you were hired for."

Please explain. But let me save you some time. A college degree shows nothing of the sort.

Anonymous said...

All taxpayers will subsidize out of state students, but instead of those students reducing the cost of in state tuition, either it will rise or else whatever economic benefits will, in this case, go to Hattiesburg business and the town, and little to the entire state.
There is no question that consolidation is long overdue. It's not just a matter of research , it's a matter of results and why other states have consolidated.
With our small population, we can't afford to duplicate degrees and fail to take advantage of bulk purchasing ( economies of scale). We don't need our schools to compete for students and faculty but to use our limited funds to attract the best faculty in each discipline so out of state students want to come . Even states with larger populations and median incomes and higher tax revenues have consolidated. We are one of the few who hasn't and others who haven't don't have but one or two state supported colleges. We also have been ridiculously wasteful and dysfunctional in our junior and community colleges. Instead of having several campuses in an 8 mile radius in one part of the state, most states try to have a technical community college function in every city of 20000 people or place them so that there's no more than a 45 minute drive to a community college. Most never had or eliminated dorms and sports or privatized their junior colleges and used those funds to expand the opportunity to train skilled labor which attracts industry to a state.
8:07 your notion that degrees from different colleges have " no difference" in the job market is just not true. All you have to do is look at the percentage of students hired out of colleges and their average salaries and the financial support a college gets from it's graduates. If you don't think a degree from one of the top ranked universities in the country matters when it comes to job opportunities, you are ill informed.
What this is really about is what you are seeing the Tea Party legislators doing in other states, they are gutting their top universities in hopes of making their alma maters and their degrees look better. It's a short- sighted, self-centered strategy that is hurting the country. Look at the state universities that are losing world ranking in this country. And, yes, there is actually a world status ranking for universities. It helped us bring the best and brightest from other countries to ours. That helped us lead the world in technology among other things. Now our best and brightest will have to start to look elsewhere if they want to be at the top of their chosen profession.
But, all of you know everything you think you need to know about education from your personal experience or from what some friend told you. Learning about what does and doesn't work to improve education and economic growth from looking at ALL education systems and all states or giving more weight to the opinions of those who have studied the subject would never occur to you.

Anonymous said...

Last person to leave Southern, please cut off the lights>

Anonymous said...

Generally, USM's best students are from Mobile and New Orleans. Most (not all) of USM's in-state students are hacks that view the school as second or third tier.

Anonymous said...

"Last one out cut out the lights," is the right philosophy, but not for USM.

USM is a solid but unspectacular regional university, and is facing the same problems all such schools now face. But it's not the problem.

We should be closing MVSU, Valley, Delta State, and (unfortunately, as its just too small to be viable) MUW. The better students from these schools would help stabilize USM and JSU, and the very best would head to MSU or Ole Miss. Then we could focus on four solid (or potentially solid, in JSU's case) schools with clear, non-overlapping missions.

Anonymous said...

USM's OOS student % is much lower than OM/State at 20%. MSU and Ole Miss get larger numbers of out of state students because of Atlanta/Dallas kids wanting the big athletic/Greek experience but can't get in to UGA or Texas.

Anonymous said...

2:44 is wrong. People come from Georgia, Texas and other states due to lower tuition and certain programs. Competition is so great in those states in some cases, it makes sense to come to Mississippi. There has long been a waiver of out of state tuition for certain degree programs. So this is not a new idea, just expanded to the whole university. Previously, each department had to request the waiver on a department level. Given the proximity of USM to New Orleans, Mobile and Florida pan-handle, this makes good sense. If it were not for the Flutie Effect, MSU and UM would be doing the same (oh wait, they are for certain degree programs)

Kingfish said...

I suspect the Polymer Science Department gets a few out of state students as does the Arts department as well.

Anonymous said...

Why has Southern Miss suffered a 2000 student loss? If I were a member of the state college board, that is the question I would ask. Of course the Southern alumni know the answer.

Anonymous said...

The polymer program gets some OOS students but that program only graduates like 15-20 people each year. The arts program gets mostly MS students because USM is the flagship school for arts in the state. Like I said earlier, USM's best students are OOS because in Mobile and New Orleans, USM isn't stigmatized like it is Mississippi, especially so in North Mississippi and Jackson.

Anonymous said...

Enrollment dropped bigly from 2012-2014 (perhaps not coincidentally, the football tanked at the same time). Enrollment was level this year with ACTs and GPAs up.

To The Top.. said...

I remember (the sixties) when USM had larger enrollment figures that either Ole Miss or MSU. Southern has an excellent nursing school and the polymer science program has already been mentioned.

Southern also has an excellent audiology program that graduates most of the new 'doctors' who are audiologists in this state.

They've always had a good Criminal Justice program, notwithstanding the fact that Don Cabana once headed it up. They also graduate many who go into the teaching professions.

Of course none of that has anything to do with declining enrollment. But, I thought a little education would be appropriate for the eggheads posting above who suggest Southern is a worthless school recruiting dregs and mental midgets.

And I almost forgot to mention their excellent program dealing with children who have hearing disabilities.

Anonymous said...

6:29 is right. Most MS kids choose State/UM over USM because of SEC athletics and Greek life. People say "well, USM doesn't have any pre-professional programs". That is true, but plenty of Southern undergrads end up at UM law or UMMC.

To The Top.. said...

7:58; I just gave you a list of degreed programs that are tops in their field for educating and launching graduates into professional fields. How is it you can say 'they con't have any'?

And what do you have to back up your claim that plenty of Southern undergrads wind up at UM Law or UMMC?

Anonymous said...

The problem with Mississippi is we have too many colleges for a state our size and with our population. We've got 2 SEC schools(with a combined 7 campuses), USM(2 campuses), Delta State, Valley, JSU, Alcorn, and MUW. Then we have a myriad of JUCO's, 17 to be exact, with roughly 30 campuses and 11 private colleges. We have all the schools in the state competing for the same students and we don't have the population to support all these schools with in state dollars.

IHL is wanting to combine Delta State and MVSU and starting with Hilpert and now with LaForge are making sure to run that school into the ground before that even happens.

Close The Grove! said...

I think USM has at least three campi. Hattiesburg, Natchez, Gulf Coast. On another front, closing DSU would be disastrous. It's been a magnet for Delta counties and athletes from out of state for sixty years. Do you suggest Coahoma Junior and Valley State could pick up the drought of opportunity should DSU close?

Bill Alexander, Walter Sillers and Chollie Capps would never entertain such a notion. Neither will Willie Simmons and Bennie.

Anonymous said...

Great to know that as a taxpayer in the state of Mississippi I have paid for my own children to go to USM. Now I get to help subsidize other peoples children from out of state? No doubt that those who did the study that supports this on the basis of "economic benefits" also did the study on the citizen funded Shuckers ball field.

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Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

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In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

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There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

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