If you live in a state with a strong public university system with affordable tuition, you are lucky. Many families face high tuition bills even if their children choose to attend an in-state public college. Out of state tuition can be shockingly expensive, often as expensive as a private college. For example, for the 2013-2014 year, out-of-state students at the University of Michigan and University of Virginia should expect to pay around $40,000 a year just for tuition. While there are some very expensive out-of-state public colleges, there are also bargains for students who know how to develop their college list carefully. Here are some of the strategies students use to find deals on out-of-state tuition.
Colleges love to boast that they have students from all fifty states, so students who offer geographic diversity may be rewarded. Colleges also like to enroll students who are at the top of their applicant pool. The biggest scholarships tend to be awarded to students with high test scores. What applicants should know is that schools vary widely in how many merit scholarships they give. Top-ranked public universities can choose from many strong out-of-state applicants who are willing to pay double or triple what in-state applicants pay. Particularly in a time of big budget cuts for public universities, many schools count on these out-of-state tuition dollars. Still, there are public universities that will offer significant merit aid to the most academically attractive candidates.
Colleges with Great Out of State Rates
In-state tuition costs vary widely by state and by institution. Some students in more expensive states will actually find out-of-state tuition is less expensive than in state tuition. Students who are open to attending college far away from home may want to check out the list of the least expensive out-of-state colleges.
Establish In-State Residency
Unfortunately, in most states establishing in-state residency is not an easy proposition. Rules governing residency are complex and often very restrictive. Taxpayers don’t like to feel like they are funding out-of-state students to take advantage of their state’s resources. So before your student assumes they can move to a new state and take a gap year working, check the requirements very carefully. It tends to be difficult to qualify as a state resident if you lived out-of-state at the time of application.
Tuition Exchange and Reciprocity Agreements
These agreements between states within the same region allow students to receive discounted tuition rates. Some agreements allow regional students to receive tuition at 150% of the in-state rate (which may be much lower than out-of-state tuition). Other programs allow out-of-state students to receive in state tuition for a course of study or major not offered in their home state. Exchanges and reciprocity agreements vary by region.
Western States: Western Undergraduate Exchange
Southern States: Academic Common Market
Midwestern States: Midwestern Student Exchange
New England: New England Board of Higher Education