Affordability brings growing number of out-of-state students to UNK
KEARNEY, Neb. (KSNB) - Driven by the New Nebraskan Scholarship, a growing number of out-of-state students are choosing to pursue their college education at UNK.
The university’s first-time, full-time freshman enrollment increased 16% this year, including a 70% gain in out-of-state freshmen. The total number of undergraduates from states outside Nebraska is up 19%, with 46 states represented.
Kelly Bartling, vice chancellor for enrollment management and marketing, expects those figures to continue to climb.
“I think the sky’s the limit for where we could end up with the New Nebraskan Scholarship,” she said.
Bartling points to UNK’s overall value as an obvious selling point.
Students want a well-rounded, high-quality education, she said, and UNK offers that with more than 130 undergraduate majors and preprofessional programs that emphasize hands-on learning and real-world experiences.
“The No. 1 reason UNK is attractive is the quality,” Bartling said, a comment backed up by the university’s No. 6 ranking on U.S. News and World Report’s annual list of the best public regional colleges and universities in the Midwest.
UNK also made U.S. News and World Report’s list of “Best Value Schools,” ranking No. 8 among all regional colleges and universities – both public and private – in the Midwest.
Already the most affordable Nebraska university, UNK will keep its tuition rates unchanged through at least the 2022-23 academic year while continuing to support students through financial aid. Nearly 90% of all freshmen received scholarships and/or grants in 2019-20, with the average award totaling $9,823.
“When I talk to prospective students and their families, they’re looking at total value,” Bartling said. “If they’re coming from states that have a relatively high tuition rate, those are the areas that we have a lot of opportunity in.”
Along with expanding access to a UNK education, the New Nebraskan Scholarship aims to address a growing workforce shortage in the state.
“Part of our mission is to serve Nebraska and workforce development,” Bartling said. “When we look at the opportunity we have as an institution to increase the number of students migrating to Nebraska to study, it stands to reason that many of those same students are going to choose to live here and work here following graduation.”
With a statewide unemployment rate hovering around 2% – the lowest in the nation – there are plenty of job opportunities available for UNK graduates.
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