Report finds that increasing out-of-state tuition may have drawbacks

As New York State continues to struggle through a tight fiscal situation, concerned constituents of the SUNY system have suggested raising nonresident tuition as a means of increasing revenue - but not all are convinced.

The ratio of resident to nonresident tuition within the SUNY system is comparable to that of other states; nonresident tuition of $12,870 is about 2.5 times higher than the $4,970 resident tuition. Other expenses, such as those for room and board, are discretionary and vary from campus to campus. The average annual cost of attending Geneseo comes to around $15,000 for New York residents and $22,820 for out-of-state and international students.

Because its out-of-state rates are comparatively less than those of neighboring states, SUNY is able to attract out-of-state residents on the promise of a strong education at a reasonable price. Partly due to its cost structure, SUNY schools have traditionally ranked well in Kiplinger magazine's annual "Best Values in Public Colleges" report.

In response to a previous study that found that SUNY could bring in $85 million per year by raising tuition for out-of-state residents, the Rockefeller Institute conducted an independent study that found that there could be a 0.98 percent decrease in enrollment for every 1 percent increase in nonresident tuition.

Sophomore Ben Peterson, a biochemistry major from Wisconsin, said he found out about Geneseo online and was impressed by the quality of the science department. "A lot of the schools [in Wisconsin] I applied to were cheaper, but didn't have the quality," Peterson said.

Peterson said that higher nonresident tuition would not have necessarily precluded his consideration of Geneseo, but "wouldn't have helped it."

Pennsylvania's state university system attempted to boost revenues between 1990-1996 by sharply increasing tuition for out-of-state students. Consequently, nonresident enrollment dropped by almost 40 percent.

According to the Rockefeller report, nonresidents are beneficial not only to the school they attend, but to the outlying region as well. Many out-of-state students tend to live and work in the state where they attend college.

"Affordability is one of Geneseo's allures, and if they keep raising the price, the school will almost certainly lose out-of-state students," Peterson said.