You can pay less to attend college out-of-state. Here’s how.

By Maxine Seya

How in the world are all these people affording to send their kids to college out of state?

We all know that in-state colleges offer the lowest sticker price on tuition.

What many people don’t know about is the regional tuition discounts that make an out-of-state college experience feasible for their students.

For example, a student from California can enroll in a public college in Colorado and pay only 150% of Colorado’s in-state tuition fee, instead of the non-resident fee that is usually 3 to 4 times more expensive.

At 150% of tuition, it can be cheaper than California’s in-state tuition.

How do we qualify?

  1. Find your state in one of the tuition exchange programs.
  2. Verify that you are a proven resident of a partner state. The eligibility process may vary, but generally you’ll have to be a resident of a member state for at least one year leading up to the time of admission into the university.
  3. Make sure the chosen degree or major is covered by the exchange terms. Some majors are not covered by the exchange.
  4. Get accepted into your student’s school of choice in the tuition exchange group.

Special requirements

Depending on the school, your student may have to uphold a minimum high school GPA or meet other criteria, such as completing a separate application. Here some other examples of special requirements for tuition exchange programs.

  • University of Hawaii at Hilo requires students to have a minimum 3.0 high school GPA.
  • Oregon State University only offers a limited number of WUE awards, so they are very competitive and not automatic as they are in other colleges like Washington State University.
  • Washington State University offers tiered WUE awards, so WUE-eligible students with a 3.4 high school GPA and above receive the full benefits of paying just 150% of in-state tuition ($11k per year discount). Between a 3.0-3.39, the discount drops to $7k per year. The awards are automatic.

What are the tuition savings?

This varies by institution. For example, let’s say a student from Alaska wanted to escape the tundra for lusher and warmer climates. She gets accepted into the University of Hawaii at Hilo. Instead of being charged the nonresident tuition rate of $20,304 per year (2020-21), she gets charged $11,016 pear year — much closer to the in-state tuition rate of $7,344. Compared to the nonresident rate, this student would save about $9,288 per year on tuition, or nearly $40k over four years of college.

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Maxine Seya
Maxine Seya is a former investigative journalist, college consultant, and admissions interviewer. She studied at Peking University (Beijing, China) and Université Paul-Valéry (Montpellier, France) and investigated for CNN and Huffington Post before graduating from Northwestern University. She founded SocratesPost to share the human stories behind the admission gates and offer parents clarity as they help their teens with college.