Students outside the state’s borders may find limited opportunities to attend University System of Maryland schools if a state bill to limit out-of-state students passes the General Assembly.

The bill would cap the number of out-of-state undergraduate students at 20 percent of the student body for all 12 system institutions and 30 percent for out-of-state graduate students. Because out-of-state students’ tuition rates are about three times more than in-state students, the university would lose an estimated $140 million in revenue in fiscal 2014, according to estimates by the state’s Department of Legislative Services.

Additionally, this university stands to lose about 1,100 out-of-state undergraduate students. However, out-of-state students make up 66 percent of the graduate student body, meaning the university would lose nearly 5,000 students total.

“I think ‘devastating’ would be a good word to use,” said university lobbyist Ross Stern, who opposes the bill. “It would pretty much decimate the graduate enterprise of the university and really of the state.”

Proponents of the bill, however, argue that taxpaying residents should receive priority in admissions. State universities should not be worried about collecting the premium made off accepting more out-of-state students who pay higher tuition rates, said Del. Susan Aumann (R-Baltimore County), a co-sponsor of the bill.

“There has been some conversation in the past couple years about how Maryland students are not being selected for potential spots because the universities themselves make more money on the out-of-state students,” Aumann said. “It shouldn’t be all about money; it should be about educating, and the priority should be educating Maryland students because they’re the taxpayers that support the institution.”

But as a top-20 public research institution, the university’s efforts to attract talented graduate students would be hampered by such a bill, Stern said. This would affect not only the university, but the broader state economy that feeds off this university’s research programs for jobs, he said.

“The university is now a national research powerhouse,” Stern said. “If our ability to recruit the best graduate students is limited by a bill like this — and it would be significantly limited — it would affect not only the revenues to the campus, but it would affect the quality of our graduates, it would affect our ability to continue to bring in $500 million a year of sponsored research. It’s a cascading effect.”

This university is an outlier compared to other system schools when it comes to out-of-state graduate admissions. The second highest percentage of out-of-state graduate students after this university is at University of Maryland University College, where it is 34 percent. As such, this university would absorb a large portion of the losses of this bill.

But Stern said in the context of this university’s peer institutions, the 66 percent is not an oddity when compared to other state schools.

As the law stands, public institutions are largely in control of setting the breakdown of student admissions. The university system policy does, however, require the out-of-state undergraduate population be capped at 30 percent.

“We have these institutions that are supported by our tax base and by our citizens of Maryland, and we are directing policies that make it less open to them and more open to those that are non-residents,” Aumann said.

By expanding the in-state population, supporters say, there’s a better chance graduates will stay in the state when they get jobs, ultimately contributing to the state economy in the long run.

“I want to make sure those opportunities are open to the residents of Maryland so they don’t have to go out of state,” Aumann said.