You live in California but your child wants to attend the University of Colorado. You check the cost of tuition for an out-of-state student at CU and ouch! The tuition and fees alone would set you back $$35,079. In comparison, your child could attend Cal State Fullerton where the tuition would be $5472 a year or almost $30,000 less than the University of Colorado.
Given this difference we wouldn’t be surprised if you’re seriously encouraging your child to go to school in state.
More affordable than you might think
The good news for parents of college-bound children is that he or she may qualify for in-state tuition at an out-of-state school as there are programs that would either allow this or at least offer tuition that’s been heavily discounted.
One of the better kept secrets of college tuition is that there are four regional associations or compacts that can help a student get a break in paying tuition for schools in other states. As an example of this students that live in Delaware, Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Maryland, Oklahoma, Tennessee, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Virginia) should be able to get in-state tuition as these colleges are members of the Southern Regional Education Board’s Academic Common Market.
The residents of Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Vermont that enroll in a program that’s eligible can pay in-state tuition at more than 80 public universities and colleges that are in the Regional Student Program. However, to qualify, a student must be pursuing a major in an area not available in the state where they live.
If you live in Kansas, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Michigan, Nebraska, Missouri, North Dakota or South Dakota there is an exchange program that would allow your child to receive tuition discounts at 100-plus universities and colleges. The way this works is that public schools in the program have agreed to charge students that are eligible no more than 150% of what they charge in-state students. What this translates into is that students can save as much as $5000 a year. Plus, there are some private colleges that participate in the program and will reduce the tuition cost for students in the region by 10%.
Getting back to that student who lives in California but wants to attend the University of Colorado there is an Undergraduate Exchange Program that allows eligible students in California, Arizona, Alaska, Hawaii, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Montana, North Dakota, New Mexico, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington, Utah and Wyoming to pay just 150% of the in-state tuition cost at participating public schools in the region. Neither the Western or Midwestern regional compact requires students to sign up for a major that’s not available in their home state. So if your child really does want to attend the University of Colorado the good news is that you could be facing tuition and fees of $17,296 instead of $35,079.
Smaller reciprocity programs
Some states offer their own programs in addition to the four compacts. Or they might offer some flexibility in determining who qualifies for in-state tuition. This could be for students that live in a neighboring state while others are only for students living in specific counties of a neighboring state that’s near a state line. As an example of this, New Mexico and Colorado have agreed to permit students from either state to get in-state tuition pricing in both states. There is a comparable arrangement for students in Wisconsin and Minnesota and students living in Washington DC can get as much as $10,000 each year towards the difference between out-of-state and in-state tuition at any public four-year school in the US that’s eligible.
Individual programs that could cut tuition costs
Plus, there are some individual programs where out-of-state students can get a tuition discount. As an example of them, Texas A&M University has a program where non-Texans that earn a scholarship of at least $1000 will also qualify to pay in-state fees and tuition. For the academic year 2016-17 that means a discount of more than $20,000. As another example of this, the University of Arkansas will waive from 70% to 90% of the difference between out-of-state and in-state tuition for students from the states of Mississippi, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas and Tennessee who have a GPA of at least 3.2 and score 1160 or more on the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT).
Your family could qualify for a deal even if your child isn’t eligible for a state or regional program or one offered by an individual school. For example, recently discharged US military veterans can get in-state tuition at any university or college in the nation.
Do your homework
If you’re the parent of a child that’s determined to go to an out-of-state school, the first thing you need to check out is whether you live in a state that’s a member of one of the four regional compacts and does your child want to go to a school that’s also in the compact. If you live in Oregon and your child wants to go to school in California or Washington, then you’d pay no more than 150% of the school’s in-state tuition. But if she or he wants to go to the University of Michigan you’d be required to pay out-of-state tuition at a cost of $45,410. And of course, this doesn’t include room and board, books and miscellaneous sundries.
Make sure to completely fill out the dreaded FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and check with your child’s college of choice to see what scholarships and grants it offers. There are also what are called “outside scholarships” or those given by an organization that isn’t the federal government or your college. These scholarships tend to be for less than $5000 but if you can put several of them together this can take a good-sized chunk out of your child’s college costs. Your local library is a good place to hunt for scholarships and grants. Or you could hire a company such as Unigo or the Scholarship Coach to find company- or foundation-sponsored scholarships for you.
If you’re having a hard time figuring out how you’ll pay for college, be sure to watch the following video for five tips that should help.