HomeArticlesHow to Pay “In-State Tuition at Out of State Colleges”

Dear Estelle.  Can you recommend some strategies to reduce the cost of attending some of the larger out-of-state universities where the tuition seems to rival the cost of the selective private colleges around the country?  There are some fine public universities on our daughter’s list but I’m thinking there is no way we can afford to send her to them.  DR Centennial

There aresome strategies that you can use to identify universities that give you the opportunity to pay in-state tuition at schools that are outside Colorado. If you’re looking for opportunities like this, it will require some homework.  Schools like the University of Michigan or University of Virginia will unlikely give out-state residents much of a tuition break.  They are highly selective and receive enormous numbers of applications.  However many schools have bargain tuitions which would be comparable to a Colorado student attending the University of Colorado. Many of these schools charge little or no additional tuition because they want to recruit more students to their rural campuses.  States like Minnesota, New Mexico and the Dakotas offer tuitions that are reasonable, sometimes less than $8,000 a year.

Some states offer deep discounts to students in neighboring states.  Minnesota and Wisconsin have statewide reciprocity. Colorado is part of the WICHE and WUE programs which give Colorado students in specific majors reduced or reciprocal tuition at other western schools, which have majors that aren’t available to Colorado students. Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming participate in the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE).  Students pay 150% of in-state tuition of the receiving states resident tuition at over 140 colleges and universities.  Remember though that the tuition breaks apply only to specific programs in these states.

Strong academic students frequently qualify for tuition reductions similar to merit aid if they have a 3.0 GPA, strong SAT or ACT scores and rank in the top 20% of their graduating class.

Another way to qualify for in-state tuition is to establish residency in the state where you wish to attend college. Some states make the rules for doing this quite difficult but in others it is quite a simple process. The state board of higher education usually sets residency requirements and authorities may disqualify students whose residency seems suspect. To qualify for in-state residency, a student is usually required to live in a state for a minimum amount of time, often a year. A school’s registrar often determines if a student should qualify for reduced tuition.

If you think it is possible that you might be a good contender for in-state tuition, you must show proof of residency with several pieces of documentation.  These might include a voter’s card, registering with selective service in that state, filing a Declaration of Domicile form with the county clerk, filing state and federal income tax returns with an in-state residential address, attending secondary school in that specific state.  The more documentation you can provide the better off you will be. Even belonging to state and civic organizations can be helpful.  Trying to establish in-state residency once you are applying for admission to college can be difficult

Exceptions are frequently made for military personnel, orphans and students with dependents (other than a spouse), teachers and government employees.  State residency requirements can be found online at FinAid. Finding in-state tuition at an out-state university is not a simple matter but once you do the cost savings can be very beneficial.

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