If you attend school out of state, you can attend colleges that offer in state tuition to out of state students. Students can also qualify for a reduced tuition without the need to move near their college campus. Paying in state tuition is one way to cut down the cost of college.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the average cost of college varies. For a public college the average is $17,237. The cost (tuition, fees, room and board) jumps to $25,431 for private for profit schools. In comparison, tuition is even higher at $44,551 for private non-profit schools.
How do you Pay In State or Reduced Tuition at an Out of State College?
Here are five popular ways students can pay in-state rates at an out-of-state college.
1. Tuition Reciprocity
The main way to attend school out-of-state but pay reduced in-state tuition is through a regional program. These are called tuition exchange or reciprocity programs. In a tuition reciprocity program, neighboring states agree to allow out-of-state residents to attend college in the neighbor state. But instead of charging out of state tuition, students pay in-state student tuition.
The tuition programs range across four regions in the U.S. such as Midwestern, New England, Southern and Western. For example Illinois and Indiana participate in the Midwest Student Exchange. Tuition reduction for out-of-state- students is offered in public and private colleges. Public colleges agree to charge no more than 150% of in-state school tuition. Private colleges also offer a 10% reduction on tuition rates.
|Region||Participating States||Tuition Programs|
|New England||Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont||New England Regional Student Program|
|Midwestern||Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Wisconsin||Midwest Student Exchange Program|
Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia
Southern Regional Education Board - Academic Common Market
Regional Contract Program
|Western||Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands|
Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education - Western Undergraduate Exchange
Western Regional Graduate Program
Professional Student Exchange Program
2. Tuition Discounts
Some colleges offer tuition discounts. These reduced rates often apply to military members, Veterans and their families. Online colleges can also extend in-state rates to distance learners.
3. Flexible Residency Rules
Most undergrads are not independent as far as finances go. So, their place of residency tends to be where their family lives. If you are a graduate student or ‘on your own’, you can set yourself up as a resident in the state you attend college. This may allow you to score that in-state tuition rate.
4. Legacy Status
Legacy status is when you attend your parent(s) or sibling(s) alma mater. Many schools extend it to build loyalty to the college. In some cases, it allows you to pay as an in-state student even if you are not a state resident.
5. Scholarships and Grants
Many colleges with high tuition also offer scholarships and grants. This type of financial aid can decrease the cost of college. Since it is free money, students do not need to pay the funds back. There are many scholarship and grants based on both merit and financial need.
In fact, the NCES did a study where they looked at the amounts of grant and scholarship aid. They found that across all income levels and types of schools, undergrads in 2016 to 2017 got an average of $12,250.
How do I Qualify for Reduced Tuition as an Out-of-state Student?
All U.S. residents can be eligible for tuition reciprocity programs. But some are only for students who live in the same region - not the same state. Other programs are for specific majors only.
Here are five things to check to find out if you qualify for an in-state or reduced rate as an out-of-state student.
- Find out if your state participates in a regional reciprocity program
- Be a resident of one of your region’s member states
- Select a program that is eligible for residents of your home state
- Complete the admission process of the college or university that offers the program
- Contact your state’s coordinator to certify you as a resident of your home state
What Types of Programs Offers Tuition Assistance to Out-of-State Students?
Each region has different types of tuition reciprocity programs for out-of-state students. There are programs for undergrads, grad students and specifically reserved for health majors. Let’s go through each program from east to west to give you a better idea.
New England's Regional Student Program
The New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE) offers Tuition Break Program. It is also known as the Regional Student Program (RSP). RSP Tuition Break enables New England residents to enroll at out-of-state New England public colleges and universities at a discount. Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont are a part of the program.
Students are eligible when they enroll in an approved major. This tends to be one not offered by the public colleges and universities in their home state. More than 1,200 undergrad and grad degree programs are available. And you can use the database on the NEBHE site to look up the 82 public colleges and universities that offer them. In 2018 to 2019, the programs helped over 8,100 NE residents get an average tuition break of $7,900 each.
Midwestern Student Exchange Program (MSEP)
The Midwestern Higher Education Compact oversees the MSEP or Midwest Student Exchange Program, the region’s tuition reciprocity program. Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Wisconsin participate in the program. Through MSEP, public schools agree to charge no more than 150% of the in-state rate for specific programs. Private schools offer a 10% discount on their tuition rates.
In 2018, there were 13,166 students in MSEP programs and savings of $93.5 million dollars by 2019. That said, decisions about enrollment are at the discretion of the host campus. Many also set specific rules for MSEP programs that apply to admission.
Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE)
The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) offers the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) program. WUE covers hundreds of majors at over 160 two and four-year schools. The program is also available for students in 16 WICHE member states. Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, and the CNMI.
Thus, out-of-state students pay no more than 150% of in-state tuition at member schools. This compares with non-resident rates that can exceed 300% of in-state rates. In 2018 – 2019, over 40,000 students reported saving more than $380.5 million dollars on out of state tuition through WUE.
Western Regional Graduate Program (WRGP)
Another WICHE run program is the Western Regional Graduate Program (WRGP). WRGP enables residents to enroll in available grad programs outside of their home state at resident tuition rates. Specifically, you pay up to 150% of resident tuition. The program is also available whether you are pursuing a master’s degree, grad certificate or doctorate. And if eligible, there are over 800 grad programs at some 60 public colleges that take part. If the program you want to enroll in is eligible, you need to apply directly to the university’s graduate studies department. In fall 2018, 1,478 students enrolled through WRGP and saved $22.7 million dollars in tuition.
WICHE’s Professional Student Exchange Program (PSEP)
WICHE also offers the Professional Student Exchange Program (PSEP). PSEP is for students in 10 western states and the CNMI. It enables those whose major is a health care profession to enroll in selected out of state professional programs. There are 10 approved health care studies which are Dentistry, Medicine, OT, Optometry, Homeopathic Medicine, Pharmacy, PT, Physician Assistant, Podiatry and Veterinary Medicine. That said, PSEP only fund students whose major is unavailable in one of their in-state public colleges.
Southern Regional Education Board - Academic Common Market
The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) offers Academic Common Market (ACM). ACM provides tuition discounts for more than 1,900 academic programs in 15 states. Participating states incllude Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia. The program is only if you want to pursue a degree that an in-state school does not offer. You can enroll in out-of-state school that offers the degree program you want and pay the in-state tuition rates.
SREB’s Regional Contract Program
Another program from the SREB is the Regional Contract Program. It enables you to pursue a professional health degree at out-of-state school. Students will pay in-state tuition at public schools or reduced tuition at private colleges. There are currently seven member states such as Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina. In order to receive reduced tuition, students must be studying dentistry, medicine, optometry, osteopathic medicine, podiatry or veterinary medicine.">