House Bill 424 causes 2 percent out-of-state enrollment increase

by News Editor Anna Brown

The 2013 Alabama House Bill 424 went into effect this semester, allowing 156 out-of-state students to pay in-state tuition rates.

If a student receives an institutional scholarship of $1,000 or more based on skill or ability, he or she is eligible for House Bill 424, said Associate Director of Admissions Julie Taylor.

“We were very excited when the (state legislature) enacted House Bill 424,” Taylor said. “I think it will be good for us for recruiting for years to come.”

Only 61 domestic students paid out-of-state tuition rates this year, according to a report from the Office of Institutional Research, Planning and Assessment.

The bill serves both as a benefit to students and as a key recruiting tool for the university, she said.

Previously, any student whose primary residence was in one of the university’s neighboring counties was eligible for in-state tuition, said Director of Institutional Research, Planning and Development Andrew Luna.

There are 16 counties in Tennessee and Mississippi combined that neighbor Lauderdale County.

Now, students from any county can receive in-state tuition rates.

“By Alabama law, any county outside of the state that is within a 50-mile radius of the state is considered a contiguous county,” he said.

These counties must also touch the state of Alabama.

“We are one of only two schools in the state that have two contiguous states that bump up against us,” Luna said. “The reasoning behind that is we have so many people who work here from those counties that contribute to the tax base by buying stuff here.”

For the past three years, UNA’s out-of-state enrollment has increased. House Bill 424 caused that number to increase by 2 percent, according to a report from the Office of Institutional Research, Planning and Development.

University officials said they expect to see higher numbers of students paying in-state tuition as the word about the bill spreads.

“I think that it could have been a factor in our increase in enrollment, but I think it will take a few years to see the full effect of House Bill 424,” Taylor said. “I think it will continue to build momentum as we continue to recruit and spread the message (about the bill).”

The bill is retroactive, meaning current students that meet requirements can enjoy in-state rates, she said.

“It’s not just for new students,” she said. “It would be automatically credited on their bill.”

While the bill applies to out-of-state students, it does not apply to international students, Taylor said.

However, scholarships are available for both undergraduate and graduate international students ranging from $1,000 to $3,000 per semester, said Temporary International Admissions Specialist Akali Fulmer.

Sophomore Bria Paschal said she thinks out-of-state tuition rates are a deterrence for many prospective students.

“It almost stopped me from coming here,” Paschal said. “I think that out-of-state tuition being double that of in-state tuition is ridiculous.”

She said she thinks House Bill 424 will attract more out-of-state students to UNA.