Why is In-State Tuition Cheaper than Out-of-State Tuition?

As the cost of college tuition rises, searching for the most economical way to obtain your college degree becomes more and more important. Some of the best deals in higher education come from public colleges and universities. When choosing a college, it is important to investigate the tuition offered by the institutions in your state and to understand the requirements needed to qualify as an in-state student.

In-State Tuition

To understand why in-state tuition is cheaper that out-of-state tuition, you need to understand how public institutions are funded.

Public colleges and universities are subsidized by tax dollars from the state. Students who live in that state are therefore given a reduced tuition compared with that of a student from another state. This is known as in-state tuition.

Since each state is responsible for their education system, the cost of college tuition will vary from state to state. The highest in-state tuition charged is by the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania at $17,772 and the highest out-of-state tuition is charged by the University of Virginia in Virginia at $42,184. Clearly, in-state tuition represents a significant savings.

Residency for Tuition Purposes

Just because you live in a state, doesn’t necessarily mean that you qualify for in-state tuition. Every state has requirements that you must meet to be eligible to be considered a resident for tuition purposes. Many states, for instance, will require that a student, or the student’s parents, have lived in the state for a specific period of time. Some states may require documentation to prove that the responsible party has paid state taxes, is employed in the state, or registered to vote in the state. In most cases, unless you can prove that you are financially independent, simply moving to the state to attend school will not qualify you for in-state tuition. The requirements will vary from state to state and even among different schools within the state. The best place to look for residency requirements for the school you are interested in is on each particular school’s website.

Other Ways to Get In-State Tuition

If you are interested in a state school but you do not qualify as a resident for that state, there may still be ways to get a waiver for in-state tuition. If you live in New England, the Midwest, the South, or the West, you may be in a state that participates in a regional academic common market . Academic common markets allow students in nearby states to qualify for in-state tuition as long as they choose a major that is not available at a public institution in their home state. Also, some schools may offer in-state tuition to students from out-of-state as a scholarship for high academic achievement or acceptance into a particular academic program. By investigating whether any of these exceptions apply to you, you may save yourself a significant amount of money.

In-state tuition is usually the best deal for obtaining a college degree. Educating yourself on the requirements and options available in your state is an important first step in the college application process. Obtaining in-state tuition will go a long way toward reducing the cost of college tuition.

See also: What Expenses Other Than Tuition and Housing are Common in College?