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Tuition Discount Secrets Revealed!

Tuition Discount Secrets Revealed!

Remember, when it comes to getting a discount on tuition, it never hurts to ask about the options available!

Elizabeth Hoyt

January 05, 2015

When it comes to college, cost is a key factor for most students. As a result, many students only consider in-state colleges, since in-state tuition, on average, can cost $10,000 less than out-of-state tuition!

But, did you know it’s possible to pay in-state tuition, even if you’re an out-of state student? There are all sorts of exceptions and programs offered so that students have more options than being limited to their home state.

Take regional exchange programs, for example. Students who are residents of participating states can request a reduced tuition rate if attending a school in other states that are members of the program.

The Western Undergraduate Exchange

The Western Undergraduate Exchange allow students to pay up to 150% of resident tuition. It’s not automatic upon eligibility, though, because institutions limit the number of awards yearly – around 36,000 students annually. If a student is eligible, he or she should apply as early as possible.

Midwest Student Exchange

More than 100 higher education institutions participate in the exchange program called the Midwest Student Exchange (MSEP) in nine of the twelve Midwestern states.

The MSEP requires that universities taking part in the program “charge no more than 150% of the in-state resident tuition rate for specific programs,” according to the web site. Students that take part in the exchange can save anywhere from $500-$5,000 annually!

The New England Regional Student Program

The New England Regional Student Program (RSP) allows students that are New England residents enroll in public universities with discounted tuition.

The catch is that they must enroll with an approved major that’s not offered by the public universities within their home state. New England consists of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Those who participate in the program save an average of $6,900 on tuition. According to the RSP web site, the “RSP Tuition Break program not only saves students thousands of dollars in college tuition, but also enables the six New England states to expand educational opportunities for their residents, while avoiding duplication of costly academic programs.”

The Academic Common Market

The South Regional Education Board (SREB) is responsible for the Academic Common Market. The program was created to allow students looking to study in a specialized field at an out-of-state college receive in-state tuition rates.

To qualify, students must be a resident in one of 16 SREB states, participate in an eligible program, complete the admissions process at a college participating within the SREB Academic Common Market program and get certified as a resident of your home state. All of the criteria is outlined in further detail on SREB’s web site.

Special Circumstance Discounts

There are even more ways to save on tuition! Students should look into other tuition discounts and exceptions their schools make.

Some schools offer tuition discounts to children with parents in the military, parents who are civil servants (like police officers or fire-fighters) or, even, teachers.

Another special circumstance is for nonresident children of alumni, like the program at Northwestern Oklahoma State University, where they waive out-of-state-tuition fees for children of alumni.

Flexible Residency/Residency for Tuition Purposes

Also referred to as residency for tuition purposes, there are states who are flexible on residency requirements, allowing students who want to attend college out-of-state to apply through the state for temporary residency.

You can learn about these through each individual state’s Board of Regents (BOR) or through a particular college’s (within the state you’re looking into) registrar’s office.

We’ve linked to the college web sites because, quite frankly, they are much easier to understand than the state’s but each link to the state’s informational pages, too.

Some examples of states where this is possible include Arizona, Florida, California and Wisconsin. For more information on specific state requirements, check out the links below:

Arizona Residency for Tuition Purposes Guidelines (on ASU site)

Florida Residency for Tuition Purposes Requirements

California Residency for Tuition Purposes Requirements

Wisconsin Residency for Tuition Purposes Requirements

Ohio Residency for Tuition Purposes Requirements

Residency for Tuition Purposes Requirements and Information on Additional States

One Student, One Rate

Schools where students are billed like equals? Preposterous! But, believe it or not – it happens! There are certain schools that only offer one tuition rate for in-state and out-of-state students, like Eastern Oregon University and Northcentral University. The schools charge a flat rate for tuition for students, regardless of residency.

Academic Discounts

If you gain scholarships, some schools will additionally allow you to pay in-state tuition as well. Certain schools also waive nonresident fees for students who earn scholarships.

Schools like Texas A&M University and the University of Arkansas waive portions of out-of-state tuition for scholarship winners. That’s yet another benefit of applying for scholarships to help pay for school!

At Texas A&M University, for example, students who earn competitive scholarships of $1,000 or more qualify for in-state tuition.

The University of Arkansas has a similar program for scholarship winners, but only waives a portion of the out-of-state tuition. Referred to as the “New Arkansan” award, it is also available for students from neighboring states who excel academically. Students who attend the college from neighboring states (Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma) and achieve minimum GPA of 3.25 GPA and an ACT score of 24 or 1090 for the SAT can get up 80 to 90 percent off their non-resident tuition payment.

Changing Residency

This does not refer to students trying to manipulate the system, who take a year off school and relocate to a state to establish residency to qualify for in-state tuition. Or who pretend to live with a distant relative that happens to reside in that particular state. Colleges are wise to these tricks and come down especially hard on these students.

Some students even move states to establish residency, though there are many stipulations to gaining in-state tuition once you move. You must establish residency for at least one year and create a paper trail (i.e. bills, library card, driver’s license, etc.) so it doesn’t look like you moved just to gain the tuition break. That means you shouldn’t apply to college in-state exactly one year after moving.

Also, you should be aware that many schools consider students of a certain age dependents, unless declared otherwise. The process to being declared an independent student is lengthy and difficult, so investigate such policies before moving.

Remember, when it comes to getting a discount on tuition, it never hurts to ask about the options available!

Do you know any other tuition secrets you’d like to share?


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