5 Ways to Cut Tuition Costs At Out-of-State Universities

Want to attend a public university outside your state?

Often the out-of-state tuition costs are far greater at state universities, which naturally prefer to keep the costs lowest for their own residents. You can, however, find public universities willing to cut their state tuition for outsiders.

Here are five ways to cut the costs of attending a public university outside your state:

1. Ask about a school’s tuition price breaks.

Some popular state flagship universities will cut their state tuition for top out-of-state students, who have impressive test scores and grade point averages.  Schools in this category include Ohio State, Penn State, Indiana University, Michigan State, University of Vermont and the University of Michigan.

In contrast, some flagships such as UCLA and UC Berkeley are now accepting more out-of-state students, but they are not giving any price breaks. UCLA, UC Berkeley and other UC campuses are taking more outside students from the US and overseas simply because they need the revenue.

2. Widen your horizon.

Most out-of-state students aren’t going to secure a price cut from a prestigious school like the University of Michigan. There are lots of schools, however, that will extend a price cut to all comers.  One gem is the University of Minnesota, Morris. It’s a wonderful school, which I mention in my book, The College Solution, in the chapter on public liberal arts colleges. Some of the state schools slashing out-of-state prices are located in areas that have experienced a drop in college-age residents. A new US News article mentions some of these state universities.

3. Look across the border.

Schools positioned on state borders will sometimes extend state tuition price breaks to students who live just across the state line. Schools in this category include University of Toledo (OH), Youngstown State University (OH) and East Stroudsburg University (PA) and Rhode Island College.

4. Explore state residency requirements.

It’s can be tough establishing residency in another state when attending college, but it’s not impossible. At some schools, such as Washburn University (KS), Northern Michigan University and Southern Illinois University, students can apply for in-state tuition after attending the school for six months. FinAid.org maintains a list of state residency requirements.

5. Check out regional reciprocity compacts.

Look for out-of-state schools that observe a reciprocity agreement with institutions in your state. Thanks to one of these agreements, you may pay the same price as a resident or capture a significant discount. Here are the regional compacts:

Western Undergraduate Exchange WUE states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

Academic Common Market. Member states: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware,), Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. Texas, Florida and North Carolina only participate through their graduate programs.

Midwestern Higher Education Compact Member states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio and Wisconsin.

New England Board of Higher Education. The 78 public colleges and universities in the following six states participate in the tuition discount program: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of  The College Solution and she also write a college blog for CBSMoneyWatch.com.

Read More:

Getting a Break On Out-of-State Tuition

Getting an Academic Bargain Across State Lines

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  1. Thanks for the helpful information on cost cutting for out-of-state schools. I feel most of the tips apply to first year students. Do you have any advice for cost cutting a student’s second year at an out-of-state school when GPA and test scores don’t matter?

    1. Hi Margaret,

      I can think of one way that students who are already in an out-of-state university can cut costs — become a resident assistant. This advice can apply to any student who is at least a sophomore. RA’s can typically avoid room and board costs. Ask your school when students can apply to be resident assistants. My daughter was a resident assistant as a sophomore and it definitely helped.

      Lynn O’Shaughnessy

  2. Great article. My institution (the University of Arkansas), as well as a few others in our general region, also offer in-state tuition to out of state students that meet certain ACT and GPA requirements and border our state, but I’ve have noticed they’ll extend those benefits to top students from farther away occasionally too… never hurts to ask!

    1. Hi Matt,

      Thanks for sharing what the University of Arkansas is doing in regards to out-of-state tuition. It’s good for parents to know that out-of-state schools are within reach financially is their children are interested in attending schools away from their home state.