Top 10 Universities with the Most Out-of-State Students

Last Updated on March 10, 2023

By Logan Livers,

College is as full of new adventures as your car is on the day you move in to your dorm. can help you tackle your college career with helpful tips or by providing you a safe storage solution for summer breaks.

Since the big decision of what college to attend is on the mind of every high school senior in the U.S. right now, decided to take a look at the schools with the most out-of-state students. In our research, we looked at each university’s volume and how far students traveled.

#10 – University of Iowa (14,149)
Total Enrollment (2013): 31,065
Non-Resident Student Population (2013): 45%

University of Iowa
Photo by Alan Kotok

At University of Iowa, the majority of out-of-state students came from the adjoining states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, and South Dakota with more than 6,000 students alone coming from Illinois. Though adjoining states had the highest out-of-state attendance, around 2,500 students came from states not adjoined to Iowa, including California, Texas, Florida, and New York. Iowa also enrolled more than 3,700 international students with nearly 2,000 of those students coming from China.

#9 – University of Alabama (14,747)
Total Enrollment (2013): 34,852
Non-Resident Student Population (2013): 42%

University of Alabama
Photo by Ken Lund

University of Alabama is the only school on this list that can boast four outside states that each contribute more than 1,200 non-resident students: Georgia, Florida, Texas, and Tennessee. Together, these states represented around 6,500 of the out-of-state students at Alabama in the fall of 2013.

#8 – University of Michigan (14,861)
Total Enrollment (2013): 43,710
Non-Resident Student Population (2013): 34%

University of Michigan
Photo by mrdonduck

There are three different states that contribute more than 1,200 students to University of Michigan: New York, Illinois, and California. While Illinois is much closer to Michigan, New York is over 600 miles away and California is just over 2,000 miles away. For students traveling by car, that’s around a nine-hour drive from New York and over 30 hours from California. Behind New York, Illinois, and California, Michigan also enrolls hundreds of students from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Texas.

(Note: Unlike some of the schools on this list, Michigan’s Almanac only lists the states where undergraduate students are from, so numbers would be different when including graduate students.)

#7 – West Virginia University (15,027)
Total Enrollment (2013): 29,466
Non-Resident Student Population (2013): 51%

Photo by Jeremy T. Hetzel

Out-of-state students at West Virginia University outnumber students who hail from the state. Though there’s no available data on which specific states non-resident students at West Virginia University come from, all of the U.S. states (and 113 foreign countries) are represented on the WVU campus.

#6 – University of Wisconsin-Madison (18,223)
Total Enrollment (2013): 42,463
Non-Resident Student Population (2013): 43%

University of Wisconsin Madison
Photo by Teemu008

The University of Wisconsin system enrolls over 180,000 students, but its main campus in Madison sees a high number of non-resident students. The majority of these students come from neighboring states like Minnesota (which represents 15,000 non-resident students across all UW campuses), Michigan, and Illinois.

(Note: University of Wisconsin’s Factbook indicates how many students out of the entire university system are from each state, instead of specifically by campus.)

#5 – University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (18,689)
Total Enrollment (2012): 44,553
Non-Resident Student Population (2012): 42%

Minnesota Twin Cities
Photo by A Syn

Outside of the Twin City area, there were nearly as many students from Wisconsin (5,353) as there were from inside the state (7,300). Wisconsin’s non-resident student numbers combined with those from North Dakota and South Dakota totaled up to more than 6,400 students. Other states accounted for about 6,000 out-of-state students, but Minnesota saw a major boost to its non-resident figures from international students, accounting for another 6,000+ students.

(Note: University of Minnesota’s Factbook only lists the amount of students from Wisconsin, North Dakota, and South Dakota and categorizes everyone else under “Other US.”)

#4 – Pennsylvania State University (19,260)
Total Enrollment (2013): 46,184
Non-Resident Student Population (2013): 41.7%

Pennsylvania State University
Photo by Padraic

Although Penn State is a huge university with campuses all across the state (as well as a worldwide program), we focused on the main campus at University Park. There’s no available data on which U.S. states non-residents students hail from, but having an online World Campus draws lots of international students. In fact, there were more than 6,000 students from foreign countries enrolled in the fall of 2013.

#3 – Indiana University Bloomington (19,586)
Total Enrollment (2013): 46,817
Non-Resident Student Population (2013): 42%

Indiana University Bloomington
Photo by Steven W.

While there’s no specific data detailing where out-of-state students at Indiana University Bloomington come from, there were 49 U.S. states represented on the Bloomington campus in the fall of 2013. The university also has high numbers of non-resident students due to its international students. More than 7,400 international students come from 138 foreign countries to attend school at Indiana University Bloomington.

#2 – Purdue University (19,786)
Total Enrollment (2013): 38,788
Non-Resident Student Population (2013): 51%

Purdue University
Photo by linademartinez

Purdue University enrolls thousands of out-of-state students in both its undergraduate and graduate programs. A large portion of Purdue’s non-resident students come from Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio. But Purdue also enrolls more than 1,500 students from California, Texas, and Florida, as well as around 8,702 students from foreign countries, including China and India.

#1 – Arizona State University (20,946)
Total Enrollment (2013): 76,771
Non-Resident Student Population (2013): 27.3%

Photo by John M. Quick

It’s no surprise that Arizona State University is at the top of the list, as its out-of-state student population continues to grow each year. In 2013, the university enrolled 14,472 undergraduate and graduate students from outside of Arizona. The majority of non-resident students came from California, Colorado, and Texas, but there were plenty of students that came from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Washington, and Minnesota. Also, ASU enrolled 6,474 international students on their campus in Tempe.

In addition to identifying the ten universities with the most out-of-state students, we also wanted to learn a bit more about what motivates students to choose higher tuition in favor of studying away from home. Below are our findings for why students opted for an out-of-state college education.

Certain Schools Offer Unique, Top-Rated Programs

One of the most common reasons students travel to other states is to attend a college or university that has a strong reputation in a specific field of study. Several of the schools on this list boast top programs that draw students from all around the country. For example: University of Michigan, Purdue University, and University of Minnesota, Twin Cities all have top-rated engineering programs.

Social Scenes Make a Difference to Students

College is first and foremost an educational experience, but it also extends far beyond the classroom. A big aspect of the college experience for most students is socializing and building strong friendships. Some schools are well-known when it comes to social scenes. Arizona State University has a reputation for having one of the best social scenes in the college world, as does University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Scholarships Can Offset Tuition Costs

Many public universities offer scholarships based on merit for incoming freshmen. A few of the schools on this list offer excellent merit-based scholarships for non-resident students, including University of Alabama, Purdue University, and Indiana University Bloomington. In fact, Alabama offers full-ride scholarships to non-resident students who perform at the highest level in high school.

More Options for College Students Coming from Chicago

Several of the colleges on this list are within good distance of Chicago, and there’s a reason for that. Thousands of students compete for spots at universities in the Chicago area (both public and private) and can’t get in. That’s why Purdue University, Indiana University Bloomington, University of Iowa, and other northern Midwest schools recruit non-resident students from Illinois so heavily.


Why College Attendance Trends Matter to

Each year, we work with thousands of college students in all areas of the U.S. to help with storage needs. Students, especially non-resident students, often turn to self storage during college breaks. The ability to rent a storage unit allows students to take only what they need when traveling home to be with family, which saves money since they don’t have to rent moving trucks to drag everything back and forth.

In addition to making the search for student storage easier near college campuses, also launched an annual scholarship contest to reduce tuition costs for students.

All images used in the post are licensed under the Creative Commons license.