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    What Is Tuition Reciprocity?

    By Gabriel Jimenez-Ekman

    Gabriel Jimenez-Ekman is a content editor and writer at Scholarships360. He has managed communications and written content for a diverse array of organizations, including a farmer’s market, a concert venue, a student farm, an environmental NGO, and a PR agency. Gabriel graduated from Kenyon College with a degree in sociology.

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    and Cece Gilmore

    Cece Gilmore is a Content Writer at Scholarships360. Cece earned her undergraduate degree in Journalism and Mass Communications from Arizona State University. While at ASU, she was the education editor as well as a published staff reporter at Downtown Devil. Cece was also the co-host of her own radio show on Blaze Radio ASU.

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    Reviewed by Bill Jack

    Bill Jack has over a decade of experience in college admissions and financial aid. Since 2008, he has worked at Colby College, Wesleyan University, University of Maine at Farmington, and Bates College.

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    Updated: February 19th, 2024
    What Is Tuition Reciprocity?

    In-state tuition offers a steep discount to any student interested in going to college. However, sometimes a student’s local state school isn’t the right fit. They might be interested in a program that the school doesn’t offer, or they may want to explore further from home. Luckily, tuition reciprocity agreements are here to help.

    Tuition reciprocity allows students to get in-state tuition or other tuition discounts at state universities in other parts of the country. If your state has a tuition reciprocity agreement with another state, you should be sure to look into their schools. Let’s get into all you should know about tuition reciprocity!

    Introduction to tuition reciprocity

    Tuition reciprocity is an agreement between states that allows students from one state to attend institutions in the other state for in-state or reduced tuition. In-state tuition is usually significantly lower than out-of-state tuition at public schools, so this can be a game-changing factor in a student’s college choice.

    Tuition reciprocity agreements are most common between neighboring states or states in the same region of the country, but this is not always the case. Some agreements exist between states that are across the country from one another.

    Public vs. private

    Most tuition reciprocity agreements only apply to public institutions, but some also apply to private schools. Keep in mind, though, that the discount is usually much less significant at private institutions. Whereas public institutions often cut their tuition in half for in-state students, private schools usually offer a much smaller discount.

    Also see: What’s the difference between public and private university?

    Which states have these agreements?

    The best way to figure out the answer to this question is to go through each tuition reciprocity agreement. Below we will list each agreement, what it covers, and which states are involved.

    Southern Regional Education Board Academic Common Market

    Covers: Public institutions in partner states when students enroll in an approved major not offered by the public schools in their home state

    States included: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia

    Southern Regional Education Board Regional Contract Program

    Covers: Health degrees at public institutions in partner states

    States included: Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina

    Western Undergraduate Exchange

    Covers: Public undergraduate institutions in partner states

    States included: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands

    Western Graduate Exchange

    Covers: Public graduate institutions in partner states

    States included: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands

    Professional Student Exchange Program

    Covers: Public healthcare programs in partner states

    States included: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Utah, Wyoming, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands

    New England Regional Student Program

    Covers: Public institutions in partner states when students enroll in an approved major not offered by the public schools in their home state

    States included: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont

    Midwest Student Exchange

    Covers: Select public and private institutions in partner states

    States included: Ohio, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Wisconsin

    Also see: How to choose a college

    What are the advantages of tuition reciprocity?

    Tuition reciprocity offers a unique combination of advantages to its participants. Many students feel a desire to go to school in a place that’s new to them. They want to expand their horizons by experiencing a different part of the country. However, this can be an expensive decision given the steep out-of-state tuition rates compared to in-state tuition prices. 

    Tuition reciprocity is a way around that. It allows you to pay lower tuition at colleges that are farther from your home. It also means that if you don’t get into your state school, or you get in but don’t get generous aid, you have some other opportunities for schools that will offer you in-state discounts.

    Aside from the geographical advantage, this wider selection can allow you to find a school with a strong program in your field of interest. For example, if you hope to enroll in a pre-med program and a neighboring state school has a renowned pre-med program, it offers a great opportunity so long as your states have tuition reciprocity agreements.

    How do I apply for tuition reciprocity?

    It’s important to note that schools do not automatically consider you for tuition reciprocity. You’ll have to apply directly through the reciprocity program. The process varies based on the program, but our list of programs above has links to each of their websites. Once you find the program for you, you can apply directly through their site.

    Related: How to choose a college

    How to find out if you qualify for tuition reciprocity at a school

    The best way to find out whether you qualify for tuition reciprocity is to ask the admissions or financial aid office. The people working in these offices should have extensive knowledge of these programs, and will most likely be able to help you out. Their goal is to make the school as affordable as possible. So, programs such as tuition reciprocity are a huge asset for them and they will be quick to recommend it.

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

    Key Takeaways

    Key Takeaways

    • Tuition reciprocity allows students to obtain tuition discounts at schools that are members of reciprocity agreements
    • They most commonly apply to public schools, but can work with private schools as well
    • Each reciprocity agreement has its own unique terms, so students should look into the specifics of any agreements their state is a member of
    • Tuition reciprocity can allow students to enjoy in-state prices while exploring new states and taking classes in programs more tailored to their interests.
    Key Takeaways

    Frequently asked questions

    Does tuition reciprocity apply for private schools?

    Tuition reciprocity is more commonly available for public schools, but some reciprocity agreements, such as the Midwest Student Exchange, offer it for private schools as well. Keep in mind that the discounts are generally less substantial at private schools, as they do not offer the same magnitude of in-state discounts as public institutions.

    How long do I have to live in a state to get tuition reciprocity?

    Each state has its own rules for how long you have to live there to establish residency. Most require at least 12 months of residence before your initial enrollment.

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