Are UT-Austin Out-of-State (OOS) applicants at a disadvantage?

 Phuket in the distance. Beach on Koh Yao Noi, Thailand

Phuket in the distance. Beach on Koh Yao Noi, Thailand

State law requires that the University of Texas at Austin must reserve 90% of it's spaces for Texas residents. In practice, about 90% of the applicant pool is Texan anyway. Each year, around 8% of admitted applicants come from other states and 2% from abroad.

Historically, the admitted student profiles based on rank and test scores for Texans and non-Texans was relatively similar, each group gaining admission at a rate of 40%.

I used to advise that the applicant pool for Texans and OOS was similar based on the applicant and admitted student numbers, but I've since revised this.

Is admission to UT-Austin more competitive if I am not from Texas?

Yes.

In recent years, admission for out of state students is more competitive than for Texas residents for a few reasons.

As UT continues gaining recognition as a global leader particularly in Engineering, Business, and Computer Science, they attract more attention from students nationwide and around the world.

For Fall 2017 first-time freshman, 48% of Texans gained admission compared with 31% OOS. Only about one in every eight non-automatically admitted Texans, however, gain admission. 

The admitted student profile for OOS students looks similar to admitted Texas students who rank outside of the top 7% of their high school. The middle 50% test score range for non-automatically admitted Texas residents was 28-33 on the ACT similar to OOS admitted students, 29-33. That means 25% of these admitted students scored higher than a 33 on the ACT.

UT-Austin separates the applicant pool based on residency, so Texans are only compared with one another, OOS against each other, and international applicants against one another. These categories are further broken down into a student's first choice college or school.

It should be noted that although 90% of enrolling UT-Austin students must come from Texas, that doesn't mean each major or honors program requires a similar representation. Consequently, there is an overrepresentaiton of OOS students in highly selective majors and honors.

Why is the applicant pool for OOS students more competitive?

My theory for why OOS spaces are more competitive is that the applicant pool is self-selecting. The largest feeder states to UT are unsurprisingly some of the nation's largest: California, Florida, New York, Illinois (Chicago). 

Students applying to universities nationwide tend to be high achieving and above average compared with the typical applicant from Texas who may not be applying to any private or out of state universities.

UT must also be more conservative with the number of OOS students their admit because if more show up to campus than they anticipate it could disrupt the 90/10 balance between Texans and non-Texans.

An outstanding student from a great California high school for example might apply not just to their state's flagship institutions, but also most selective private universities and other prestigious public universities like Washington, Michigan, Virginia, etc. OOS applicants also tend towards UT's most popular and well-recognized programs like Business, Engineering, Communications, and Computer Science.

OOS applicants are also more likely to come from college-educated families, resource-rich suburban or private schools, and high socioeconomic backgrounds who can afford to pay private or out of state education premiums. The average OOS applicant likely has higher test scores and better grades than the average Texas resident who come from more varied backgrounds.

If I'm OOS how should I approach my application? Should I even bother applying?

You cannot control your residency or which state you come from.

I encourage all applicants to focus only on factors that they can control. It's especially critical that OOS applicants focus on demonstrating fit for their first choice major because it is highly unlikely your second choice would be considered.

OOS applicants are not eligible for automatic admission or pathway programs like CAP and PACE. Moreover, little to any financial aid is available for OOS students. As a general rule, enrolling non-Texans are expected to pay their full cost of attendance which can exceed $50,000 annually for at least their first year.

It is possible yet difficult to establish residency after your freshman year on campus. Residency questions are outside of the scope of my expertise, but you can get started here.

The question then for many non-Texans is whether they should apply at all. If your family cannot cover most or all of your expenses, you should consider applying also to less selective Texas universities or those from other states that may be more forthcoming with financial aid and scholarships.

If UT-Austin is one of your top choices, it only costs time and $75 to apply. My advice is that you apply, complete your financial aid forms and any scholarship applications, and assess your academic and financial options during the spring of your senior year to see if UT would be a good fit and investment for your future.

Are you a non-Texan looking to build their best application? Get started today with a free consultation of your admissions chances.