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Lawmakers Want to Limit Non-Va. College Students

Currently, guidelines call for schools to reject out-of-state undergraduates if the population rises above 25 percent, but the state does not enforce the policy.

About 81 percent of students attending public schools in Virginia are state residents, according to the council. The numbers are lower at the four top-ranked schools: 67 percent at U-Va., 68 percent at William and Mary, 70 percent at James Madison University and 74 percent at Virginia Tech.

David Lacey of Centreville contacted Hugo after taking his daughter Maureen, a high school senior, to tour colleges in North Carolina, where schools limit their out-of-state student population to 18 percent. He wants Virginia to adopt a similar practice.

Otherwise, Lacey said, "Whenever a budget crisis arises, they are going to accept more out-of-state students."

But Del. Joseph D. Morrissey (D-Richmond) said that schools would be "boring and sterile" places if they admitted only Virginians who want to study law and medicine.

"Our flagship universities . . . would cease to be the nationally recognized and much-sought-after universities that they are if we would reduce the rich talent pool of out-of-state students," he said.

Legislators introduced four bills during the 45-day session requiring schools to boost the number of in-state students to between 70 percent and 80 percent after hearing complaints from parents. All of the proposals were set aside, and lawmakers decided to consider changes during budget deliberations.

Del. David B. Albo (R-Fairfax) introduced one of the bills after he met Phillip Wears, now a freshman at Virginia Tech.

"While I realize that this will likely do nothing to personally benefit me, I hope it can help future college applicants who aspire to attend schools with extremely high standards such as UVA," Wears said.

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