SPRINGFIELD – The state of Illinois is among the states leading the nation in the number of college freshmen pursuing higher education in other states, according to a state agency.
The State Journal-Register in Springfield reported the Illinois Board of Higher Education said between 2000 and 2014, the number of freshmen who left the state to attend college rose by about 64 percent. The mark was hit before the state’s two-year budget impasse, which negatively impacted the finances of the state’s colleges and universities.
Only New Jersey, which also has had state budget woes, exceeded Illinois in loss of students to out-of-state schools.
Preliminary enrollment figures for the fall suggested that the budget deadlock accelerated the trend, which has been fueled by a combination of state financial problems, population shifts and aggressive recruitment by competing states.
Enrollment was down this fall at public schools across the state with the exception of a 2 percent increase at the University of Illinois’ campus in Urbana-Champaign and a 5 percent increase at U of I Chicago, based on preliminary estimates from IBHE.
Enrollment dropped by double digits at Chicago State University, Eastern Illinois University and Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. Enrollment at the University of Illinois Springfield campus was down 8.7 percent compared with 2016 to 4,956.
According to IBHE, costs are a factor.
Basic tuition and fees for 2016-17 at U of I in Champaign, University of Illinois Chicago and Illinois State University in Normal were significantly below costs at Indiana University, Purdue University and University of Missouri, three schools that compete for Illinois students. But the report noted 66 percent of students at the competing schools receive some type of tuition discount, compared with 59 percent at the Illinois schools.
After discounts, according to the IBHE study, in-state undergraduates paid $8,797 on average compared with $19,522 paid by Illinois undergraduates at the out-of-state schools. Those figures, though are averages – and schools in adjoining states have been especially aggressive in recruiting high academic achievers and offering them competitive financial packages.