In-State vs. Out-of-State Tuition

 

MODULE GOAL: To learn about the differences between in-state and out-of-state tuition at state public universities, and to understand what each state defines as an in-state student.

OBJECTIVES:
  1. To explain the difference between in-state and out-of-state resident.
  2. To examine the cost difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition.
  3. To identify an in-state student.
  4. To research tuition reciprocity programs between states.
INTRODUCTION:
 
When making the decision to attend college, many factors must be considered. One of the most important of these factors is cost. College can be quite expensive, so it is important to understand the many different options students have when it comes to how much college will cost.  There is often a big difference in cost at private colleges and universities compared to public colleges and universities. Even within public schools there is a significant difference in cost between those students that are residents of the state versus those students that reside in different states. For this module, we will examine the differences between the cost of in-state tuition and out-of-state tuition at public colleges and universities.

KEY QUESTIONS:

  1. What is an in-state resident and out-of-state resident?
  2. What is the cost difference on average between in-state and out-of-state tuition?
  3. How do students qualify for in-state tuition?
  4. What are reciprocity programs and who qualifies for them?
  5. Does in-state tuition apply to private colleges and universities?

What is an in-state resident and out-of-state resident?

The education system in the United States is controlled by individual states, rather than by the federal government. Each state has its own “public” institutions that are run and funded by the state. Funding for these schools comes from the state residents in the form of taxes. As a result, these state residents are able to attend the public institutions at a lower cost than people who are not residents of the state. This cost to the state residents is referred to as in-state tuition. The cost to residents from other states is known as out-of-state tuition.

What is the cost difference on average between in-state and out-of-state tuition?

As discussed earlier, each state controls its own public colleges and institutions. Within each state there are many different public universities and colleges, and each institution of higher education can have a different tuition rate. Due to the challenges of varying tuition rates, it is impossible to give a one-size fits all answer regarding tuition rates.

However, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) does offer data to allow you to compare in-state and out-of-stated tuition. For the 2010–2011 academic year, the average tuition for an in-state student at a four year public school for an undergraduate student was $6,752. The average tuition for an out-of-state student at a four year public school for an undergraduate student was $15,742. This means that, on average, it cost $8,990 more for students to attend a college or university in a state where they are not a resident.

The following tables show the cost differences for in-state and out-of-state students at the public colleges and universities in Maryland, Virginia, and District of Columbia for the 2012-2013 academic year.

Regional Examples

Maryland

Table 1 – Cost difference for in-state vs. out-of state tuition at Maryland public institutions

School
In-State Tuition
Out-of-State Tuition
Price Difference

Bowie State University

$6,639
$17,195
$10,556

Coppin State University

$6,065
$10,856
$4,791

Frostburg State University

$7,436
$17,624
$10,188

Morgan State University

$7,012
$16,356
$9,344

Salisbury University

$7,700
$16,046
$8,346

St. Mary’s College of Maryland

$14,773
$27,573
$12,800

Towson University

$8,132
$19,754
$11,622

University of Baltimore

$7,646
$17,914
$10,268

University of Maryland, Eastern Shore

$8,908
$27,287
$18,379

University of Maryland-Baltimore

$7,498
$27,012
$19,514

University of Maryland- Baltimore County

$9,764
$20,825
$11,061

University of Maryland-College Park

$8,908
$27,287
$18,379

University of Maryland- University College

$6,384
$12,336
$5,952

Cost data retrieved from U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics (2013).

Virginia

Table 2 – Cost difference for in-state vs. out-of state tuition at Virginia public institutions

School
In-State Tuition
Out-of-State Tuition
Price Difference

Christopher Newport University

$10,572
$20,122
$9,550

College of William and Mary

$13,570
$37,344
$23,774

George Mason University

$9,620
$27,764
$18,144

James Madison University

$8,808
$22,796
$13,988

Longwood University

$10,890
$23,220
$12,330

Norfolk State University

$6,860
$20,360
$13,500

Old Dominion University

$8,190
$22,230
$14,040

Radford University

$8,590
$20,160
$11,570

The University of Virginia College at Wise

$8,107
$22,475
$14,368

University of Mary Washington

$9,306
$21,620
$12,314

University of Virginia

$12,216
$38,228
$26,012

Virginia Commonwealth University

$9,886
$23,913
$14,027

Virginia Military Institute

$13,760
$33,811
$20,051

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

$10,923
$25,915
$14,992

Virginia State University

$7,420
$16,388
$8,968

Cost data retrieved from U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics (2013).

District of Columbia

Table 3 – Cost difference for in-state vs. out-of state tuition at D.C. public institutions

School

In-State Tuition

Out-of-State Tuition

Price Difference

University of the District of Columbia

$7,244
$14,540
$7,296

Cost data retrieved from U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics (2013).

The National Center for Educational Statistics website has cost data for colleges and universities throughout the United States. To find the tuition cost, or other related information regarding a prospective college or university, please visit http://nces.ed.gov/.

Based on information in each of the tables, there is a significant difference in the cost of in-state versus out-of-state tuition. For example, the largest difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition was $26,012 at the University of Virginia. The lowest difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition was $4,791 at Coppin State University in Maryland. As a student examining postsecondary options, it is important to consider these substantial cost differences.

How do students qualify for in-state tuition?

Due to the extreme cost difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition, states are very strict about who qualifies for in-state tuition. Each state policy is different and some states are more strict than others. For example, the policy on in-state tuition for the State University System of Maryland requires that a student have lived in the state for at least one year, did not move to the state solely to attend college, make Maryland their permanent residence indefinitely, and completely abandon the student’s previous home state.

What are reciprocity programs and who qualifies for them?

Reciprocity programs are agreements between states that limit the cost of tuition for out-of-state students. Often these agreements will limit the out-of-state tuition rate to 150% of the in-state tuition rate. For example, if the in-state tuition rate is $5,000 per year, then the most a student in a reciprocity program would pay is $7,500 per year. This can mean a significant savings for students in these reciprocity programs. There are numerous reciprocity programs, but many of them limit the number of students in them. This means that it is important to apply early if you want to take advantage of the cost savings. The following identify some of the major reciprocity programs, as reported by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (2013):

Southern Region 

Known as the Southern Regional Education Board Academic Common Market, this agreement includes institutions in the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Midwestern Region

The Midwest Student Exchange is a reciprocity agreement between Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Wisconsin.

Western Region

The Western Undergraduate Exchange has tuition discounts for students in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

One of the more generous programs, the Western Regional Graduate Program allows students to pay in-state tuition rates at graduate programs in other states.

New England

The states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont participate in the New England Regional Student Program. This agreement allows students to pay discounted tuition rates when they enroll in a major that is not available at the public institutions in their home state.

District of Columbia

One of the largest reciprocity partnerships is for students in the District of Columbia. The DC Tuition Assistance Grant, provides up to $10,000 per year to bridge the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition for students from D.C. to attend eligible public institutions in other states, with a max of $50,000. These programs can be great assets for students looking to attend college out-of-state.

Does in-state tuition apply to private colleges and universities?

Unlike public colleges and universities, private institutions do not receive their funding from their state government. Due to this lack of state funding, private colleges and universities charge one tuition rate for all of their students, regardless of whether they reside in the same state that the institution is in. The cost of private institutions on average is substantially higher than public institutions. Many times, even attending an out-of-state school will be cheaper than attending a private college or university. Visit http://nces.ed.gov/ to research the cost of any private school you wish to attend.

REVIEW OF TOPICS:

What is an in-state resident and out-of-state resident?

  • In-state residents live and pay taxes in the same state as the public institution.
  • Out-of-state residents live and pay taxes in a different state as the public institution.

What is the cost difference on average between in-state and out-of-state tuition?

  • The average cost of in-state tuition at a public institution is $6,752.
  • The average cost of out-of-state tuition at a public institution is $15,742.
  • The average cost difference is $8,990.
  • Each public institution sets its own tuition rate, so students need to check with their specific institution for their cost differences.

How do students qualify for in-state tuition?

  •  Each state sets its own policy for determining who qualifies for in-state tuition.
  •  Students need to check with their specific institution to determine whether or not they qualify for in-state tuition.

What are reciprocity programs and who qualifies for them?

  • Agreements between states that provide tuition discounts to out-of-state residents enrolled in the programs.
  • There are numerous reciprocity programs all over the country; students should research these programs when deciding where to attend a postsecondaryinstitution.
  • The reciprocity programs often have limited enrollment, so students need to apply to them as early as possible.

Does in-state tuition apply to private colleges and universities?

  •  Private colleges and universities do not differentiate between in-state and out-of-state students. Therefore, all students pay the same tuition rate.

ONLINE RESOURCES:

Listed below are some great websites that provide further information about in-state and out-of-state tuition as well as the entire college process.

  1. The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators: http://www.nasfaa.org/This site provides comprehensive information about financial aid for students, including programs from each state.
  2. The National Center for Education Statistics: http://nces.ed.gov/.  This site provides information on tuition, room and board, and other fees for every college and university in the United States.
  3. The College Affordability and Transparency Center: http://collegecost.ed.gov/.  A terrific site that helps students determine the cost of colleges and universities, make comparisons between different institutions, and help figure out which schools are affordable for them.
  4. United States Department of Education: http://www.ed.gov/college-completion.

This site provides links to different loans and grants that help students pay for colleges and universities.

ASSESSMENT/EVALUATION:
  1. What is the difference between an in-state and out-of-state student?
  2. Why is it important to understand this distinction?
  3. Who determines the cost of state public institutions?
  4. Is there a significant difference between in-state and out-of state tuition?
  5. What is a reciprocity program and how can these programs help to reduce the cost of college tuition?
  6. Look up a public institution in your home state. How do students qualify for in-state tuition at that institution?
  7. Find a reciprocity program that your state participates in and determine the tuition savings for students enrolled in that program.
 
WRAP-UP:

The cost of a college education climbs higher every year. It is important for students to understand what those costs are when deciding on postsecondary options. The cost difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition at public colleges and universities is quite significant. However, there are different programs that students can access to help defray some of that cost.

Hasani Isreal is a graduate student in Secondary Special Education and Transition at George Washington University. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History from the University of Maryland, College park.

REFERENCES

National Center for Education Statistics. (2013). Search for schools, colleges, and libraries. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences. Retrieved from http://nces.ed.gov/globallocator/

University System of Maryland. (2013). Policy on student classification for admission and tuition purposes. Adephi, MD: University System of Maryland. Retrieved from http://www.usmd.edu/regents/bylaws/SectionVIII/VIII270.html

Career Vision. (2011). "Out-of-State" Colleges Not "Out-of-Reach": Tuition Reciprocity Programs. Retrieved from http://www.careervision.org/about/Tuition_Reciprocity_Programs.htm.

The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. (2013). State & regional college tuition discounts. Retrieved from http://www.nasfaa.org/students/State___Regional_College_Tuition_Discounts.aspx