When you have a limited budget to pay for college, it can be frustrating to limit yourself to the public colleges and universities in your state. You want the lower tuition your in-state residency qualifies you for, but you’re not excited about any of the public schools in your state. Or maybe you just wish you could expand your choices.
The big question: Are there any options for cash-strapped college hopefuls who want to go to school out of state?
The big answer: There are three solid options for finding affordable college options at out-of-state schools and all of them are right in this post.
1. Look for schools with reciprocity agreements.
Reciprocity agreements are agreements between schools or states to allow in-state tuition or tuition discounts for students coming from out of state. These can include state-to-state agreements, county-to-county agreements, or regional agreements.
For example, the Midwest Student Exchange Program (MSEP) is a reciprocity agreement between Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Wisconsin. According to the MSEP website, “Through the MSEP, public institutions agree to charge students no more than 150% of the in-state resident tuition rate for specific programs; private institutions offer a 10% reduction on their tuition rates. You must be enrolling as a non-resident student at a participating MSEP campus to receive the discount.” This doesn’t apply to every school in these states, but all participating institutions are listed on the website.
Additionally at IPFW, due to a reciprocity agreement, students from certain counties in Ohio (Butler, Darke, Preble, Shelby, Mercer, and Van Wert) get to pay in-state tuition.
2. Compare out-of-state public schools to in-state private schools.
If you’re not interested in attending any of the public schools in your state, private schools aren’t your only option. Consider public schools outside your state—even paying out-of-state tuition, some out-of-state private schools are still less expensive than most private schools.
For example, IPFW’s total cost of attendance for 2015-2016 for out-of-state residents is $33,049. If you go through the list of Ohio schools on U.S. News and World Report, you’ll find most of the leading private schools cost more than that (Oberlin, Kenyon, Case Western Reserve, etc.). Michigan’s leading schools (Kalamazoo College, Albion, Alma, etc.) run at similar rates.
3. Keep your options open.
You might be surprised to find that you have a number of out-of-state options that are as affordable or more affordable than your large in-state university.
Providence Catholic High School college counselor Frank Palmasani says, “Ignore sticker price. Over and over and over, there are examples of students paying less at higher-sticker-price schools.” The same article states that, “Students may find, for example that an elite private college meets 100 percent of financial need or that a public university will offer a merit-based grant to an out-of-stater because it’s not the super-popular flagship school.”
“Some universities are more generous at cutting costs for students than others, so one quick way to get an estimate of how a college will tamp down costs for an individual family is to use a net price calculator, which every university receiving federal funding should have on its website.”
Don’t forget, you can often cut down college costs with scholarships, a job, and a good financial aid package. Download the Scholarships eBook today to find scholarships that will help make college more affordable.