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In-State vs. Out-of-State Tuition: Everything You Need to Know

College can be an exciting new beginning, and you’re probably itching to get started! While you’re making a list of your dream colleges that you plan to apply to, be sure to consider in-state vs out-of-state tuition. Both have their pros and cons, so keep reading to learn more!

What is in-state tuition?

In-state tuition is tuition offered at a discounted rate for applicants and students that reside in a public institution’s state. Due to state funding from taxes, in-state residents are allowed the opportunity to pay less for their schooling. Not every college or university offers in-state tuition, however. Some schools, typically private institutions, opt to chart in-state and out-of-state students the same tuition. 

There are also some state programs that can be used in tandem with this type of tuition, which can make it especially advantageous to attend college in your home state. For instance, Louisiana offers the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS), which provides merit scholarships to Louisiana residents going to Louisiana public colleges or universities.

Related: How to get in-state tuition as an out-of-state student

How do I get in-state tuition?

While it might seem simple that living in the state obviously grants you in-state tuition, there are some stipulations that come into play. Different colleges and universities will have different requirements for you to qualify for in-state tuition such as residency for a certain number of years or attendance at a state high school.

Regardless of the school, you’ll likely have to provide proof of residency like a driver’s license, mail addressed to you, or your high school transcript. To check the requirements for your school, look on their website or talk to your academic advisor.

Related: Top public colleges and universities in the USA

What is out-of-state tuition?

Out-of-state tuition is a higher-priced tuition rate offered to students and applicants coming from international countries or other states. Since these students don’t contribute to the state’s taxes, the tuition isn’t discounted before financial aid.

What’s the price difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition?

State schools can look a lot more appealing when you realize the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition costs. Oftentimes, out-of-state tuition could be double or more than in-state. 

In fact, College Board reported in 2023 that the average tuition for an in-state, public institution was $11,260 while the average out-of-state tuition for a public institution was $29,150. That’s a difference of over $17,000! 

To get a closer look at the price difference, here’s a list of a few different colleges comparing their 2023-2024 in-state and out-of-state tuition (per semester):

School In-state Tuition Out-of-state Tuition
Clemson University $7,560$19,532
Delaware State University$5,476.50$10,437.50
Florida A&M University$11,531$17,504
Georgia State University$10,268$29,306
Louisiana State University$25,432$42,109

How can you lower the price of out-of-state tuition?

College can be a big expense, even without adding on a few more thousand dollars for going to one out of state. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways for you to make college affordable if you want to venture out from home. Check out some of the options below!

Apply for need-based aid

One of the best ways to lower the cost of college is applying for need-based aid by filling out the FAFSA and CSS Profile. These forms allow you to estimate how much you can contribute and provide schools with a picture of your financial need. They can also be used when applying for independent or government grants, such as the Pell Grant.

Related: Guide to securing grants for college

Apply for scholarships 

Don’t miss out on applying for scholarships when you’re looking for ways to finance your education. Scholarships are everywhere, and there’s something for everyone! 

Colleges typically consider you for the scholarships you qualify for upon applying, but it may not be enough to cover the full cost. Luckily, you can apply for outside scholarships, but always check with the financial aid office at your desired school. Make sure that you know which outside scholarships are renewable or not. Find out whether scholarships cover the cost for one year of out-of-state school or for multiple years.

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Research tuition exchange programs

Tuition exchange is a program offered to an institution’s employees and their beneficiaries to cover the cost of tuition. However, it is only available at participating schools, but fortunately, there are at least a few member schools within each state and some countries. 

Keep in mind that this is not an automatic award that employees receive. Like many programs that fund schooling, you’ll have to apply to be eligible, and it can be a competitive process. 

Look into tuition reciprocity agreements

Tuition reciprocity is offered on a state-by-state basis, and most often awarded to students attending neighboring states. For example, Minnesota has reciprocity agreements with North and South Dakota, one college in Iowa, and the Canadian province of Manitoba. These agreements provide students with in-state tuition, but be sure to apply directly through the program’s website since it’s not automatically awarded. 

Ask about legacy options

If one of your parents is an alumnus of the college you got into, you’re considered a legacy applicant! These types of students and applicants may receive certain benefits because of their parents’ previous involvement. 

In fact, some colleges offer legacy applicants the in-state tuition rate, even if they live out-of-state! Several on-campus organizations offer legacy benefits as well. 

Related: What are legacy admissions?

Establish residency in another state

Moving to the state you want to attend college might seem a little extreme, but it can easily cut the cost of out-of-state tuition. On one hand, you could do this by moving at least 12 months prior to your start date. 

On the other hand, you could simply demonstrate intent on establishing a permanent residence in that particular state. In order to do this, you’ll likely have to show proof by doing things like registering to vote in that state or getting state documentation like an ID or license plate. This will likely be a lot easier if you choose to live off-campus. Technically, the change of address may allow you to qualify for in-state tuition, especially if your housing is year-round. You should verify this with your college’s financial aid office before making any final decisions.

Key Takeaways

Key Takeaways

  • In-state tuition is offered at a discounted for state residents because colleges receive funding from the local government
  • Each college has a set of requirements to qualify for in-state tuition, so be sure to do your research
  • Out-of-state tuition is tuition offered at a higher rate for students that reside in international countries and other states 
  • Out-of-state tuition usually is about double in-state tuition
  • There are multiple ways to lower the cost of out-of-state tuition such as need-based aid, scholarships, tuition exchange programs, reciprocity agreements, legacy benefits, and establishing residency
So, as you’re crafting your list of colleges, make sure you do a little extra research to know what tuition rate you qualify for and how it may impact your ability to afford the school. It’s important to have a balance of schools that you’re applying to so that you give yourself the best chance of finding the school that is the best fit for you! Key Takeaways

Frequently asked questions about in-state vs. out-of-state college tuition

Can I get in-state tuition as an out-of-state student?

Yes! There are ways for out-of-state students to lower their tuition costs, such as tuition exchange programs, state reciprocity agreements and establishing residency. However, don’t forget about your other options as well such as scholarships, grants, and other forms of financial aid.

Is paying out-of-state tuition worth it?

You might be put off from choosing an out-of-state institution because of the price tag, but you shouldn’t eliminate it from your options. Paying out-of-state tuition can be worth it if you’re attending a college or university that excels in your desired program and puts you in a position to gain networking and internship opportunities. It’s all about what you make it, and there’s always tons of options to make your education more affordable.

Do out-of-state students pay more at every college?

You’ll be happy to know that not every college or university charges out-of-state students a premium. Private institutions charge all their students the same base cost of attendance, not including individual financial aid packages, of course.