By SILU GUO
Capital News Service
LANSING – Community colleges in Michigan are enrolling more out-of-state students and international students, a trend that may add dollars to their budgets.
Among 28 community colleges, 21 have an out-of-state and international tuition rate twice as high as in-district tuition, according to the Michigan Community College Association.
For example, tuition at Lansing Community College this fall is $81 per credit hour for in-district students, $162 for out-of-district students and $243 for out-of-state and international students.
Tuition at Northwestern Michigan Community College is similar: $84.60 per credit hour for in-district students, $165.90 for out-of-district students and $212.45 for out-of-state and international students.
Mike Hansen, president of the association, said many colleges are targeting students who pay higher tuition rates, at least in part to solve their serious budget problems.
He said it’s hard to keep up with rising costs. “Students come with lots of need and to provide those services is expensive.”
Many colleges manage enrollment to address their budget situation, according to Hansen. Those colleges near state borders, for example, have the advantage of attracting out-of-state students because of the convenience of geography.
Among community colleges with a significant proportion of out-of-state-students are Gogebic in the Western Upper Peninsula and Lake Michigan, Glen Oaks and Southwestern Michigan near Indiana, said Hansen.
At Monroe County Community College, the percentage of out-of-state students increased from 8 percent in 2008 to 13 percent in 2012.
“We have students from Ohio,” said David Nixon, president of Monroe which is near the Ohio border. “We are in driving distance, so if they cannot enroll in programs there, they will come here.”
The college has an extension center in Temperance, which provides an even more convenient location for Ohio students, and also benefits out-of-state students by providing more job-oriented programs.
“All programs offered are available for out-of-state students. Out-of-state students are provided all the services available to in-state students,” said Mark Hall, the college’s director of admission and guidance services.
Nixon said, “The reason out-of-state students come to our college is that we have the specific program they want to take for jobs.”
According to Nixon, welding and nursing are two majors that are popular among out-of-state students. “A lot of places cannot find enough people,” he said.
He said there are plenty of welding jobs needed over the next five years, due to the economic improvement and Monroe County Community College has already trained 200 welders. “There are still more than 100 jobs open out there,” Nixon said.
And the college is focused on helping students find a job once they get the qualifications they need.
“The president of the American Welding Society in Michigan came to our campus to talk about the shortage of welders,” Nixon said. “Employers who hire nurses also come and speak to classes just to tell them that the minute they finish this program, they can get a job.”
Jackson Community College is one of several in the state trying to attract international students.
Last year, Jackson enrolled almost 10,000 students. Among them, approximately 4 percent – more than 390 – were out-of-state or international.
“We have dozens of international students each year,” said Provost Rebekah Woods.
The college has hosted international students on campus for at least 20 years or more, and is diversifying its campus life to appeal more to them, Woods said.
Two new 96-bed housing complexes houses and a new health laboratory center were built for students who prefer to live on campus.
“We also have some opportunities for them if they prefer to live in the community to experience American lifestyles,” said Woods.
Woods said Jackson is focusing on international students, because the benefit is significant to American students and faculty.
“We want our local students to be prepared as global citizens,” Woods said. “We want to ensure they have a broad perspective that will allow them to compete and succeed in a global economy.”
Students are provided that opportunity through interactions with students from other countries on campus, being able to visit other countries, learning from faculty who have exchange opportunities and an international perspective that will be infused throughout their curriculum, she said.
Currently, Jackson is working on a program arranged by U.S.-Brazil Connect, where it, together with Houston Community College (Texas) and Red Rocks Community College (Colorado) will send American students to Salvador, Brazil, as English instructors.
They are also developing a program called “Four Wing International” with China.