Pros and Cons: Deciding Whether to Attend a State School as an Out-of-State Student

University of Wisconsin campus sculpture of Abraham Lincoln statue.

University of Wisconsin campus. Source: Flickr user ssshupe

Many students want to go college far away from home. At first thought, many students think attending a state school will be cheaper. However, attending a state school as an out-of-state student is often much more expensive.

There are pros and cons of attending a state school as an out-of-state student. Before making the decision to attend a state school in another state, weigh your options carefully.


Some of the pros of attending an out-of-state school include:

1. Independence

University of Vermont building from afar during autumn.

University of Vermont. Photograph via UVM on Facebook.

Staying close to home allows students to depend on their friends and family for everything. Moving away forces the student out of their comfort zone and teaches them independence.

If you’re moving out of state, chances are pretty good that you’re putting at least some distance between you and home.

2. New friends

Attending a state school close to home promises you’ll see many familiar faces. These familiar faces (probably people from your high school) may make it easy to feel comfortable, but it may also lead to you not branching out to meet others. Attending a state school far from home means you will not know many people or any people at all. This will force you to branch out and make new friends.

3. Different weather

Depending on where you choose to attend college, going away from home might mean different weather, and sometimes, better weather. For example, if you’re from a colder climate and choose to attend college in California or Florida, you’re bound to have a much sunnier academic year.

4. More career opportunities

If you’re from a rural area, attending a college in an urban area could have more career opportunities. In addition, some industries are only located in certain areas of the country. Attending a college in one of those areas might open more doors than studying where the industry is not located.

5. More academic opportunities

State schools are known to have a huge array of academic disciplines. This is especially important for students who are considering a hard-to-find major.

6. Diversity

State schools typically have a larger student population, which means they also might be more diverse in many senses of the word. For example, state schools are usually more diverse racially, ethnically, and socio-economically.

7. More student activities

With larger student populations come more student activities. State schools usually have hundreds of clubs and organizations, as well as well-known collegiate athletic teams.

8. More on-campus resources

While many private universities have the means to have many amenities on their campus, their population size does not always require them to have a lot of resources. Because of their size, many state schools have large libraries, gyms, and other extraordinary resources and amenities for students.


There are wonderful pros of attending an out-of-state public institution. However, there are also cons to attending a state school out-of-state. Here are some of those cons:

1. No state grants or scholarships

Many states offer their eligible students scholarships or grants for staying in-state to attend college. When students attend a college in a different state, they cannot take advantage of the free money to help them pay for college.

2. Less financial aid

University of California, Berkeley campus building and tower.

University of California, Berkeley campus. Source: Flickr user brainchildvn

Some state schools will give merit scholarships to out-of-state students. However, the scholarships are not enough to cover the cost of attendance.

Other state schools, such as the University of California and the University of Wisconsin, do not provide any merit scholarships to out-of-state students. Many students who attend state schools at an institution in another state will have to pay much of the tuition bill themselves.

3. Sometimes harder to get in

Some state schools have more difficult academic requirements for out-of-state students. State institutions, as their names imply, were traditionally founded to help the students of their state. While many state schools have started to recruit out-of-state students, their ideal out-of-state student may be a high achieving student who can pay the full cost of attendance on their own.

4. Homesickness

Many students will experience homesickness when they are away at college, no matter how far away from home they are. However, students who are farther away at out-of-state schools may find it harder to get home. Going home to visit family and friends will require a lot more time and money compared to attending a school that is closer to home.

Deciding whether or not to attend

Some of the best colleges in the country are state schools. Before adding an out-of-state public institution to your college list, learn more about the college, and weigh the pros and cons just like you would for any other school.

In addition, make sure you investigate the cost of attendance for out-of-state students and inquire about any options that could lower the cost of attendance.

Just because you live in a different state should not stop you from considering state schools if they have everything you’re looking for in a college.

One thought on “Pros and Cons: Deciding Whether to Attend a State School as an Out-of-State Student”

  1. Will says:

    Awesome article. Answered the question I had regarding state grants in/out of state.

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