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from the Illinois Board of Higher Education


Contact:  Melissa Hahn | 217.557.7354 |  217.441.1066 cell |



March 12, 2019






SPRINGFIELD – More Illinois public high school graduates left the state for college in 2017. Outmigration data shows that of all public high school graduates in 2017, one out of five (20.3 percent) signed up for classes at out-of-state colleges and universities. Looking specifically at the number of college-bound public high school graduates who enrolled in a four-year institution, nearly half, or 48.4 percent, outmigrated. That’s an increase from 46.6 percent in 2016.


For additional context, in 2002, only 29.3 percent of the four-year college-going Illinois public high school graduates enrolled outside the state. That’s an increase of more than 19 percentage points and by nearly two-thirds (65.2 percent).


Percent of recent Illinois Public High School Graduates Enrolled Out-of-State


“This is not good news,” said Nyle Robinson, interim executive director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education. “The outmigration trend continues to increase, and that means we’re not only losing students to out-of-state colleges and universities, we’re likely losing them to other states for good. We want to educate our state’s students and see them flourish in jobs here in the Land of Lincoln.”


Eric Lichtenberger, deputy director of the IBHE’s Information Management and Research division, said, “There is evidence that the rate of out-of-state enrollment accelerated during the Illinois budget impasse. In the years immediately before the budget impasse that started in mid-2015, the rate of outmigration to four-year institutions increased by only 1.2%. Since the start of the impasse, outmigration shot up by at least 3.7% per year.”


Rate of Out-of-State Enrollment Among Four-Year College-Going
Illinois Public High School Graduates from 2013 to 2017



Conversely, the bright spot in these numbers indicates that the only noticeable enrollment growth was at Illinois’ community colleges, where 2,477 more public high school graduates began classes than in 2016.


“Looking forward, we anticipate that a commitment to stable funding from the state budget will allow greater confidence in the health of Illinois’ public universities. That, in turn, will encourage more high school graduates to pursue their college career in their home state,” said Robinson.


“While this is a trying time for higher education in Illinois, I am hopeful that the tide will turn in this legislative session,” said Robinson. “Our colleges and universities, the IBHE staff, and families across the state understand that it’s time to re-invest in higher education. In order for colleges and universities to hold the line on tuition—which many have done over the years—state funding needs to be increased.”


In fiscal year 2002, state funding for public universities covered 72 percent of costs. But by fiscal year 2018, tuition was covering 65 percent of university costs and state funding provided only 35 percent. “It’s a priority for IBHE that Illinois move back toward a stable funding stream that makes our colleges and universities more affordable,” said Robinson.


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