Managing Finances

Dealing with out-of-state tuition? Learn how to qualify for in-state rates

UniversityParent has created a guide answering the most frequent questions we receive about in-state tuition. 5 Questions and Answers to Lowering Tuition Costs: An Introduction to In-State Tuition is the resource you’ve been looking for. Download the guide, and read on for more information about qualifying for in-state tuition.

Even if your student has grown up a big fan of the state “U” — that excellent, affordable institution just a few towns away from home — his academic, career, and personal goals may draw him to greener pastures across the state line. Because most states subsidize the tuition of their own residents, tuition for out-of-state students at public universities is almost always quite a bit higher than for in-state students.

There is no quick way to alter residency status, but it can be done, and there are other strategies for reducing the overall cost of an education at an out-of-state school. Here’s what you need to know.

State Residency Requirements
State residency is the key factor used to determine eligibility for in-state tuition. Residency requirements vary significantly from state to state (view state-by-state rules here). The College Board’s Guide to State Residency Requirements is another helpful resource. Typical requirements include:

  • A durational residency requirement (usually 12 months).
  • The intent to maintain domicile or be a permanent resident of the state for the foreseeable future.

A student’s college of choice usually has the authority to determine whether the student qualifies, so families must be ready to provide proof of residency and intent to remain a resident. Your portfolio of proofs may include:

  • Car or voter registration
  • Income tax returns with an in-state residential address
  • Records of attending secondary school in the state
  • State driver’s license
  • Home ownership in the state
  • Local bank account
  • Records of full-time employment in the state
  • Local civic group or club involvement

These are examples only — no state takes a simple checklist approach to automatic residency status.

Out-of-State Tuition Waiver
If your student seeks an academic program that is not available at your state institutions, he may be eligible to participate in a tuition-exchange program at a school in another state and receive a reduced tuition rate. Regional tuition waiver programs include the Southern Regional Education Board’s Academic Common Market, the New England Regional Student Program, the programs of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, and the Midwest Student Exchange Program. Almost every state in the U.S. is covered — explore the links above to find out more.

Some schools may also offer out-of-state tuition waivers to the following and/or their dependents:

  • Active-duty military personnel stationed in the state
  • University faculty or staff
  • School teachers in the state
  • Newly settled retirees
  • High school graduates who left the state for a period of time

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