Why K-State is focusing on out-of-state enrollment beginning fall 2020

Callery pear trees have blossomed in front of the historical Anderson Hall after a long, cold winter. (Brooke Barrett | Collegian Media Group)

Effective in the fall 2020 semester, Kansas State University is lowering the cost of out-of-state tuition for students from five states — Arkansas, California, Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas — in addition to the nine states already on the list.

As previously reported by the Collegian, this Strategic Enrollment Plan was formed during the tenure of President Richard Myers to create a more competitive environment for K-State and bring in more students from diverse backgrounds.

K-State’s enrollment has decreased since 2014, with the current population down 2.8 percent, or over 600 students, since last year. K-State’s out-of-state population has dropped an average of 178 students every year since 2014.

According to the 2018 Kansas Higher Education Statistics document from the Kansas Board of Regents, the percentage of high school students pursuing post-secondary education in Kansas has dropped from 65.9 percent in 2010 to 52.6 percent in 2016, a 13.3 percent drop.

However, graduating high school seniors are choosing K-State for their post-secondary education more than any other university in Kansas.

“We can continue to enjoy [being] the number one choice among graduating high school seniors in the state of Kansas, have 30 percent of the market and be the big dogs in the state, but it’s a declining pool,” said Pat Bosco, vice president of student life and dean of students.

Bosco said he has wanted to be far more competitive with out-of-state markets for several years, primarily the states surrounding Kansas. Under Myers’ leadership, K-State invested in regional admissions representatives in the very locations where the university is expanding its out-of-state discounts.

Tim de Noble, co-chair of the Out-of-State Task Force and dean of the College of Architecture, Planning and Design, said when the university attracts out-of-state students, they typically decide after college to make Kansas their home and grow the economy within the state, and that is why the university needs to bring in more people from out-of-state.

De Noble said out-of-state students are attracted to K-State because of its inherent quality, and it’s status as a land grant institution\ focused on education, research and service to Kansas.

“Students want to make a difference while in school, and not just be talked at, but be a part of the discussion and a part of the community, and I don’t know a lot of other universities that do that,” de Noble said.

Emily Lehning, associate vice president of student life and director of New Student Services, said this plan will strengthen K-State’s student body because there is a lot of value in having diverse perspectives and people coming from different areas.

Lehning said the university underwent about 18 months of studying where K-State’s enrollment is at now and where it should be in the future. She said the study focused on how K-State can be made more available to more students and broaden this experience to students outside of Kansas.

“I think it also helps when there is an increased awareness of Kansas State University in a particular market for students wanting to go out and look for internships and jobs,” Lehning said.

Maddie Soehner, freshman in communication sciences and disorders, said she came to K-State from Colorado because she thought it was a great fit for her, and she really liked the academic programs. Soehner said it was actually cheaper for her to go to school in Kansas than in Colorado.

“I feel like overall it will give me more opportunities in my future because I’m not spending so much money now and saving that money for the future, but still having that quality of education at a lower price,” Soehner said.