Report: Public Research Universities Prioritize Out-of-State, High-Income Recruitment

Public research universities often aren’t putting their money where their mouth is when it comes to student recruitment.

A new report from The Joyce Foundation found that most public research universities prioritize recruiting out-of-state students and were less likely to visit schools in low-income areas.

The report analyzed recruiting visits to local high schools made by admission staff at 15 public research universities in the US.

“In contrast to rhetoric from university leaders, our findings suggest strong socioeconomic and racial biases in the enrollment priorities of many public research universities. A small number of universities exhibit recruiting patterns broadly consistent with the historical mission of social mobility for meritorious state residents. However, most universities concentrated recruiting visits in wealthy, out-of-state communities while also privileging affluent schools in in-state visits,” the report stated.

“Although most universities did not exhibit racial bias in in-state visits, out-of-state visits consistently exhibited racial bias. Since most universities made many more out-of-state visits than in-state visits, overall recruiting visit patterns for most universities contribute to a student composition where low-income students of color feel increasingly isolated amongst growing cohorts of affluent, predominantly white, out-of-state students.”

Twelve of the 15 made more out-of-state visits than in-state visits, with seven of those making more than twice as many out-of-state visits than in-state visits.

All schools in the study were more likely to visit out-of-state public high schools in high-income communities than in low-income communities, and most were also significantly less likely to visit out-of-state public high schools with a high percentage of students of color.

Most universities also visited a disproportionate number of out-of-state private schools.

Read the full report.

Ashley Dobson is NACAC’s senior communications manager for content and social media. You can reach her at

One thought on “Report: Public Research Universities Prioritize Out-of-State, High-Income Recruitment”

  1. When I attended UC Berkeley in the 60’s, fees were $125/semester. Housing/food cost about $1,200/year. There was no tuition because public higher education was truly state funded. And our state benefited immensely. This changed with Proposition 13, which, as a homeowner, I voted against because it would severely limit public funding of public institutions; higher education benefits all in a community and especially raises up those who are first generation college students. Growing up in LA, we had one of the best public school systems (as did other urban communities in CA) in the country. Why? Because they were publicly funded. And there was a distinct advantage CA had because of this — growth of an educated populace benefited all. Unfortunately this has ended because the conservative tax movements that have grown up around the country. The result is that many CA high school students are shut out of the UC system, though some of the the CSU system schools admit a range of students and a fine education at those schools can be achieved. Why do people vote against their own self interest?

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