New Jersey is known for its “brain drain,” with more than 30,000 high school graduates heading out of state for college each year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. And it’s not making up for the loss, as only about 4,000 out-of-state students head into New Jersey for college. This made New Jersey the state with the largest net loss of students in the nation last year.

By contrast, neighboring Pennsylvania, a much larger state with many more colleges, saw only 16,000 of its students leave for college. At the same time, it attracted close to 32,000 out-of-state students, many from New Jersey, giving it the largest net in-migration of students in the country.

Where do our migrating students go? Universities in neighboring states view New Jersey as prime recruiting ground due to the many high-achieving high school students who come from high income families willing to pay more expensive out-of-state tuition. Penn State, for example, reports that about 4,000 of its students (roughly five per cent of its undergraduates) hail from New Jersey. They pay about $33,000 annually in tuition and fees – double the cost of attending Rutgers-New Brunswick in their home state.

Other colleges and universities particularly popular with New Jersey students are: The University of Delaware, Drexel, NYU, Villanova, Temple, Saint Joseph’s, Syracuse, Lehigh, and the University of Maryland at College Park.

It’s not that New Jersey is lacking colleges. It houses 19 public community colleges where many high school graduates choose to begin their education and strive to earn an associate degree without accumulating substantial student debt. New Jersey is also home to 11 public four-year colleges and universities, with highly regarded Rutgers University enrolling about 65,000 students annually. New Jersey also boasts 14 private colleges and universities, including Princeton University, which is often ranked as the premiere college in the country.

So why does this brain drain exist? New Jersey is a small state, making it easy for students to cross the border to attend college while still remaining close to home. New Jersey is also an expensive state. The high cost of attending college in New Jersey – even the public universities – makes out-of-state schools extremely attractive when they offer substantial scholarship funds.

Colleges in neighboring states actively recruit New Jersey students due to our many stellar schools and strong applicants. Additional institutions popular with New Jersey students are: Towson University, University of Rhode Island, University of Scranton, James Madison University, Boston University, University of Pittsburgh, University of Michigan, Cornell University, George Washington University, Pace University, Johnson & Wales University, Quinnipiac University, West Chester University, Northeastern University and Loyola University.

Susan Alaimo is the founder and director of SAT Smart in Hillsborough that has been offering PSAT, SAT, and ACT preparation courses, as well as private tutoring by Ivy League educated instructors, for more than 25 years. Visit www.SATsmart.com or call 908-369-5362.

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