It is not unusual for people to leave their states to get a college education. This can be driven by a number of factors. Some people do not want to live close to their families as they move into early adulthood. Others find a favorite school in another state. Still, others live in states where the university system for the state is small or gets poor ratings. Others stay for a similar reason: the state university systems are usually small. Examples of this are Michigan and California, which have among the highest-rated “in-state” university systems in the nation.
Hire A Helper looked at the level of migration among students who begin college to find out the states where the highest percentage of students moved to other states. The study yielded two primary results:
Nationwide, roughly 31% of all college students have left their home state to attend college
In 39 out of 50 states, more students attend college within their home state than attend out-of-state universities.
As might be expected, students tend to move further to go to elite universities. Students who left to go to the top 200 universities based on academics moved an average of 292 miles. These 200 were picked using the widely regarded U.S. News university rankings for 2021. Those who went to the highly elite universities of Caltech, MIT and Stanford, traveled over 1,000 miles. The balance of the data used in the study came from the Current Population Survey and the National Center for Education Statistics.
In total, the study found, students who relocated for college totaled 43% of the universe considered.
The state with the highest percentage of students who left the state for college was New Hampshire at 75%. This was followed by Alaska (74%), Rhode Island (69%), Connecticut (64%), Hawaii (61%) and Vermont (50%). Clearly, students from states with the lowest populations were most likely to move.