Many high school students can’t wait to leave the nest and fly far away from their parents once they finish high school. Unfortunately, the cost of attending an out-of-state college usually puts the brakes on those plans. It can be difficult for families to cover the gap between in-state and out-of-state tuition fees, but there are a few ways to reduce those expenses. One way, of course, is to establish residency in the state prior to enrolling in school. Most families, however, won’t want to uproot everyone for the sake of one child, especially if one or both parents have stable incomes in their current home state. It’s also not convenient option for those with multiple children who plan to attend college. Thankfully, there are other ways to reduce the cost of out-of-state tuition that doesn’t require packing up and moving away.
1. Regional Reciprocal Agreements
Some students may qualify for a tuition break (typically 150% of in-state tuition) if they cannot pursue their desired major at a public, in-state college or university. These reciprocal agreements, often referred to as tuition exchange programs, are available in several regions, including:
Academic Common Market (ACM) – For over 35 years, the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) has given students the opportunity to attend out-of-state schools at a discounted rate. Currently, there are more than 1,900 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to choose from within the 16 participating SREB states.
Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) –Students who reside in one of the 15 member states are eligible to receive reduced tuition rates at one of the 150 WUE institutions. Most participating institutions extend the discounted tuition rate for two (associate’s degree) or four (bachelor’s degree) years.
Midwest Student Exchange Program (MSEP) – Over 100 institutions across the nine participating states (Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and Wisconsin) provide students with discounted tuition rates that typically save students between $500 and $5,000 annually. Students also receive a 10% tuition reduction at participating private colleges.
New England Regional Student Program (RSP) – Otherwise known as Tuition Break, this program managed by the New England Board of Higher Education, provides the opportunity for students to enroll in more than 700 undergraduate and graduate programs at a reduced rate. A total of 82 public college and universities in six states (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont) participate in the program. The average annual savings per student is $7,200.
2. State Tuition Exchange Programs
Several states participate in reciprocal agreements with neighboring states. These tuition exchange programs often give non-resident students the opportunity to attend participating out-of-state colleges at the same or lower rate that they would pay at a public, in-state college or university. But, unlike the regional agreements, students aren’t restricted by their choice of major. There are, however, some programs that are excluded in certain states. Here are a few examples of some of the available tuition exchange programs.
Ohio students may attend participating out-of-state colleges in Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and West Virginia. Students are charged the current, in-state tuition rate for their school of choice.
Eligible Colorado students may attend participating institutions in New Mexico and pay the in-state tuition rate.
3. Merit Scholarships
Students who have scored well on the SAT or ACT, and have maintained a high grade point average may receive offers from colleges that cover the difference between out-of-state and in-state tuition fees. These scholarships are often renewable, and in some cases, students may even have their entire tuition covered. The following colleges offer out-of-state scholarships, but there are many more available.
Another way students can save on tuition at out-of-state colleges is to serve in the military. Most colleges and universities will allow active duty members and veterans to register at the in-state tuition rate.
Regardless of where students enroll in college, it’s important that they have a good financial aid plan in place and consider the total cost of attendance, not just their first-year expenses. It may seem more interesting to venture away from home, but students who take on high amounts of student loan debt to finance their educational adventures may regret their decisions further down the road.