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University enrollment ceilings: what you need to know | Education

Public colleges and universities were designed to meet the educational needs of those living in the state. To maintain this mission, some schools and states set enrollment caps or limit the number of out-of-state students who can be admitted each year.

However, public universities are still encouraged to accept foreign students. Non-state residents not only bring different perspectives to the classroom, but they also generate more money for an institution – the average tuition at a public college in the 2021-2022 school year for students from out of state were more than twice as high as it was for in-state participants.

“Historically, we’ve seen some public systems and some states turn to international students, especially at times when they need additional income or don’t want to raise in-state tuition for their students,” says Julie Peller, executive director of Higher Learning Advocates, a nonprofit that advocates for federal higher education policy reform.

What are college enrollment caps?

Enrollment caps occur at both public and private colleges. Schools not only impose restrictions on total enrollment, but also limit the size of specific programs or classes in order to advance strategic priorities, such as maintaining faculty-student ratios, meeting revenue goals, serving local students and managing the growth of college programs, says Lynn Pasquerella, president of the American Association of Colleges and Universities, a membership organization for institutions of higher education.

Some state systems set enrollment caps, while others are determined by each school based on its physical size constraints or desire to create exclusivity.

“We don’t start this admissions cycle thinking, ‘Here’s my cap and this is how I’m admitting students,'” says Corinne Smith, co-author of College Essay Journal: A Conscious Handbook for College Applications. “Even as an admissions officer, I may not be aware of enrollment caps until a few weeks after decision day. They change from year to year.”

Public colleges that exceed their enrollment capacity are subject to a state fine or may have to delay admission for some students.

The University of California, Berkeley, for example, recently found itself in the middle of an enrollment challenge when a judge froze fall 2022 enrollment numbers at 2020-2021 levels. The decision was made by an Alameda Superior Court judge in August 2021 after the local community group, Save Berkeley’s Neighborhood, filed a lawsuit – in relation to California’s Environmental Quality Act – claiming that increased student enrollment would create a housing shortage and noise issues.

This would have required the school to reduce the number of undergraduate students enrolled for the 2022-23 academic year by about a third. That court ruling was overturned in March 2022, restoring more than 3,000 places at Berkeley for freshmen and transfer students.

Other states are also reconsidering their current policies.

This policy change gives more students from across the country the opportunity to attend an HBCU, as many are concentrated in the south or on the east coast. North Carolina A&T, which has seen an influx of out-of-state applications in recent years, can now meet enrollment demand, says Dawn M. Nail, the school’s acting associate vice provost for student management. registrations.

“It also allows us to have a more diverse student body,” she says.

What to keep in mind when applying

When compiling a list of schools, check college websites for more information on admission rates – percentage of in-state and out-of-state acceptances – enrollment numbers and capacity from the program. If these numbers aren’t available online, experts suggest contacting a school’s admissions office and asking questions.

But even if an applicant is aware of college enrollment caps, “it’s not something to play a game of strategy with,” Smith says.

“While I think it’s necessary to know the process if a student has access or if a parent has access, it’s not going to make or break their request to know what the enrollment cap is in a given year. “, she adds.

Enrollment caps can create more competition in college admissions, but they should not deter a student from applying to a certain school. Instead, experts say students should focus more on what can be controlled, such as choosing a mix of selective and less selective schools, preparing a strong application, and applying to top-choice colleges early.