This is a trick question. Or at least the answer may not be intuitive.
Ask most northern Virginia parents which of the Commonwealth’s public institutions enrolled the highest percentage of out-of-state students in the fall of 2012, and the answer will usually be the University of Virginia.
But according to the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV), UVa was not guilty of enrolling the highest percentage of students from outside the Commonwealth. The Virginia Military Institute (VMI) once again holds that distinction, posting 41.6% percent out-of-state students. The College of William & Mary remained in second place at 33.9 percent, and the University of Virginia came in third at 33.5 percent.
Looking at numbers instead of percentages, Virginia Tech enrolled the most nonresidents in the fall of 2012 with 6232 students coming from other states. UVa came in second with 5304 out-of-state students—up from 5150 in 2011, and James Madison University came in third with 5028 (up from 4896) students from outside of Virginia.
In total, Virginia public institutions enrolled 166,722 students (up one percent from last year), with 30,584 (18%) coming from other states, no doubt to take advantage of Virginia’s reputation for excellence in postsecondary education.
In fact, four Virginia public institutions (UVa, College of William & Mary, University of Mary Washington, and James Madison University) are among the top 25 public colleges and universities with the best four-year graduation rates in the country based on data generated using a search tool provided on the IPEDS website.
While the state legislature engages in a perennial battle with UVa and William & Mary over enrollment caps for nonresidents, it’s interesting to look at which of Virginia’s public institutions are actually most friendly to out-of state students:
- Virginia Tech: 6232 (26.1%)
- University of Virginia: 5304 (33.9%)
- James Madison University: 5028 (27.8%)
- George Mason University: 2938 (14.2%)
- Virginia Commonwealth University: 2574 (10.7%)
- College of William & Mary: 2094 (33.9%)
- Virginia State University: 1603 (29%)
- Old Dominion University: 1601 (8.1%)
- Norfolk State University: 961 (15%)
- Virginia Military Institute: 693 (41.6%)
- University of Mary Washington: 546 (12%)
- Radford University: 465 (5.4%)
- Christopher Newport University: 225 (4.4%)
- Longwood University: 206 (4.7%)
- University of Virginia at Wise: 114 (4.7%)