How to Reduce Tuition Costs for Out-of-State Students

The biggest drawback of attending an out-of-state public institution for many students is that you will be paying a higher price tag than your classmates who are from the state. So, how to reduce tuition costs you might ask? While attending a state school as an out-of-state student isn’t right for every student, if the price is what’s holding you back, then consider ways that you can lower your bill if the school has everything you want. Here are some tips that will help make going to an out-of-state college more affordable.

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How Do Tuition Costs Vary for Students In-State and Out-of-State?

At public institutions of higher learning, in-state students will often pay less than out-of-state students. This is because public colleges and universities are actually subsidized by tax dollars from the home state. This results in reduced tuition.

The differences are sometimes small, but some states add on a large price tag for out-of-state students. The State University of New York at New Paltz, for example, currently charges just over $7,000 for tuition for undergraduate, New York residents. However, undergraduate non-residents can pay nearly $17,000.

Out-of-state students at the University of California will pay over $20,000 more per year than their classmates who are California residents. These higher price tags scare some students away from considering state schools in other states.

How To Reduce Tuition Costs – 5 Tips

However, there are ways to find lower tuition to schools, even if you’re from out of state. Here are some tips:

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1. Attend a state school in an “academic common market”

Some states and systems have come together to offer lower tuition rates for students who are out-of-state, but in the same regional area. If your state is included in this grouping, you could pay a lower price to attend the institution.

There are four academic common markets available for students to consider. However, not every school will participate in the program, so it’s important to do your research to see if your dream school participates. The four academic common markets are:

2. Become a resident of the state

While you may not live in your intended school’s state at the moment, you can absolutely move there, but a lot of planning is required to become a resident of the state. You and your parents or guardians, if you are a dependent student, must live in the state a full year before you are considered a resident in most states.

Unfortunately, being in the state for one year as a college student in a dorm room on campus does not count. You or your family would have to prove another residency in the state. This could be done by you moving to an apartment or other location and having it listed as your permanent residence, or your family moving to the home state of your dream school. Whichever you choose, make sure you have a paper trail to prove your residency. That includes getting a driver’s license in the state, registering to vote, and paying taxes.

This may seem like a drastic move, but depending on your circumstances, it could make perfect sense. It could dramatically lower the cost of attendance in more ways than tuition – in some cities and towns, apartments are cheaper than dorm rooms, especially if you have roommates.

3. Seek waivers

Some colleges have scholarships and tuition waivers to persuade top-performing out-of-state students to attend their institution. Other schools provide waivers or scholarships to students who live in a neighboring state or students whose parent(s) attended the institution. Check with the state colleges you are considering to see if they have any options for you as an out-of-state student.

4. Military members and their dependents can attend state schools at the in-state tuition cost

Previously, only some states offered in-state tuition to military members and their families. However, in 2014, H.R. 3230 was signed into law giving military members, veterans, and their dependents in-state status at public institutions throughout the United States.

5. Talk to the financial aid office

If you’ve got your eye on a particular college and you’re worried about the cost of attendance as an out-of-state student, you should reach out to the financial aid office.

Many times, state schools have merit or need-based aid that they can award specifically to out-of-state students. Not every student will apply, but it could be a way to get a big chunk of your bill taken right off the top.

Many students and their families get a bit of sticker shock when they see the sticker price of colleges, especially for out-of-state schools. However, doing your research and understanding there are paths to lowering tuition is essential. From talking to the financial aid office to scholarships, there are plenty of ways to pay less for college.

Aside from costs, there are a number of other factors that go into deciding if you should attend a state school as an out-of-state student. Check out our full list of things to consider to help you make the decision. You can also use our College Match tool to compare your favorite colleges, their costs, majors, and more.


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One thought on “How to Reduce Tuition Costs for Out-of-State Students”

  1. Corey says:

    I found this article very helpful and right on. I have been looking at ACM’s and the other 4 hints are right on.

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