The National Center for Education Statistics shows that in 2013-14 in-state tuition at a public 4-year university was, on average, about $4,000 less than out-of-state tuition.
At that rate, over the course of a four-year education, you would save about $16,000. And the gap between in-state and out-of-state tuition is growing, so chances are you will save even more than that over the next four years by attending an in-state school. For many, that’s more than enough to makes the decision to attend an in-state school an easy one.
But what if your dream school is out-of-state? Maybe there's an out-of-state school with a world-renowned program in a unique field you’re passionate about. Maybe you’ve always wanted to live in California, or Florida, or New York City.
Establishing Residency in a New State
If moving to a new state in order to receive in-state tuition seems too good to be true, that’s because it mostly is. To qualify for in-state tuition in a state you don’t live in, you would need to “establish residency” first by living in the state for a certain period of time. For most colleges to consider you a resident of their state, you must live there for at least one year. This means taking a year off between high school and college to ultimately save money on your tuition.
The unfortunate truth is that colleges keep tight control over who receives in-state tuition and who doesn’t. Most college freshmen are still considered dependent on their parents when it comes to financing college, and residency will be based on where your parents live, even if you live in your new home state for a year or more, depending on your age.
Pulling this off is not as simple as it may seem, and you should think long and hard before trying it. Luckily there are other options.
Regional Exchange Programs
Most if not all US states are part of regional exchange programs, which offer lowered tuition for students from states in a given region. Some of these programs limit the tuition breaks for those students who want to enter a program not offered in his or her home state. The programs below are all worth a look:
New England Regional Student Program Region: New England (Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont)
Academic Common Market Region: South US (Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia)
Western Undergraduate Exchange Region: West US (Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Northern Mariana Islands, Montana, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming)
Squeeze More from Scholarships
Look far and wide for scholarship opportunities. You never know when you will find one perfectly suited to your interests or your talents. Even small scholarships can add up to make a huge difference toward the debt you carry with you after college.
If you’re willing to put the work in, there are many ways to save when it comes to your college education. Such an important decision deserves serious thought and consideration of all the costs involved. Hopefully, these tricks will help you make the decision that’s right for you!