Cutting the Price of Out-of-State Universities

The price tag for attending an out-of-state public university can be quite high.

It’s easy to understand why.

States are interested in holding down the costs for their own residents. You might, however, be able to capture a higher-ed bargain if your state maintains a reciprocal agreement with its neighbors. States commonly maintain reciprocal agreements with public colleges and universities in other states.

Thanks to these reciprocity agreements, an out-of-state student may be able to pay the same tuition as a resident or pocket a significant discount.

Why would states cut the price for outsiders? Money is a big motivator.

If reciprocal agreements are in place, a state might not have to worry about offering its own students, for instance, a school of architecture, optometry or forestry. Instead of spending the money on these majors, a state can reach a deal with a neighboring state.

Mizzou & KU

That’s exactly the sort of agreement that the states of Kansas and Missouri reached years ago. My alma mater, the University of Missouri, has a dentistry school, but the University of Kansas doesn’t. KU, however, has a School of Architecture, but Mizzou doesn’t. Consequently, Missouri architecture students can pay in-state tuition at KU and Kansas dentistry student enjoy a cut rate price at Mizzou.There are countless examples around the country of these piggy back arrangement. Many schools, however, don’t advertise these arrangement so you must ask.

Regional Reciprocity Compacts

Large groups of states have also entered into regional reciprocity agreements. Keep in mind that not all state universities participate in these compacts. Here are the four reciprocal compacts:

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

There are 82 public colleges and universities in the six states in this compact and they all participate in the tuition discount program. The states are: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Western Undergraduate Exchange

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

Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution, an Amazon bestseller, and she also write college blogs for CBSMoneyWatch and US News. Follow her on Twitter.

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  1. For all the North-easterners out there who are not New York State residents – SUNY Binghamton is very accommodating for out of state applicants.

    I went to Binghamton and paid in-state tuition (around $7,000 per year). Many of my friends from New Jersey and Massachusetts paid even less than I did. Binghamton loves attracting out-of-state students – it makes the SUNY system look better on paper.

    Binghamton also has a very high quality of education, so I suggest everyone checks it out. It is often ignored by those who are not New York State residents.