Financial Aid

How to Pay In-State Tuition at an Out-of-State College

Discover loopholes that allow you to stretch your tuition dollars further and get out-of-state tuition at in-state tuition prices.

Elizabeth Hoyt

May 10, 2019

How to Pay In-State Tuition at an Out-of-State College
Looking to go to college out-of-state but can’t afford out-of-state tuition prices? There may be a solution: getting in-state tuition prices! How? There are a few loopholes discovered by U.S. News & World Report that you should explore which can allow students to save thousands of tuition dollars without being confined to their home state. Here are some of the options:
1. Tuition Reciprocity Agreements
It varies within each state, but some neighboring states have reciprocity agreements. That means residents can attend universities in either state at in-state rates, such as Wisconsin and Minnesota.
2. Special Circumstance Exceptions
Some schools make exceptions for students and offer in-state rates for specific circumstances, such as a student having a parent in the military.
3. Examine Residency Rules
You could become a resident of the state in which you’d like to attend college. This is difficult, but possible. Residency rules vary by state and institution so you may not be able to qualify. Generally speaking, if a student is a dependent (which is usually the case for college students) residency is based on where their family lives, not where they reside for college. The majority of undergraduate students aren't considered financially independent so it's difficult for them to qualify for domicile tuition in another state; however, for those that are considered financially independent, it may be an option worth exploring.
4. Legacy Exceptions
Many colleges offer legacy exceptions. This means that if you decide to follow in a parent’s footsteps, you may qualify for in-state rates as an out-of-state student if you’re a legacy at the school. For example, the University of Missouri is willing to reduce tuition rates for legacy students that excel academically.
5. Location to Neighboring States
Depending on the state you live in, there may be flexible residency requirements for students who live near state lines and want to cross over for college. U.S. News & World Report details that “Minnesota holds an agreement with several neighboring states – Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, one institution in Iowa and the Canadian province of Manitoba.”
6. Regional Exchange Programs
Sometimes, students neglect to explore regional exchange programs, which offer tuition discounts. These programs allow students to qualify for tuition at a reduced rate as an out-of-state student. For example, U.S. News & World Report found the Western Undergraduate Exchange program. The program “is available to students who call the following states and territories home: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.”
7. Scholarships and Financial Aid Programs
For students that excel academically, most colleges are willing to give tuition breaks to lure high achievers to their institutions. Because their academic credentials allow them bargaining power, these students can qualify for in-state tuition at some state schools that will offer the benefit. When in doubt, if a school is recruiting you, request the in-state tuition price. It never hurts to ask, right?

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