How to Save on Out-of-State Tuition

By: Katie Wornek, UHEAA

Public colleges and universities in the United States operate on budgets that are partially provided by their respective state’s legislature. Since state taxpayers are already contributing to these colleges and universities, students who are state residents pay a lower tuition rate than students attending from out-of-state. Private colleges do not operate using taxpayer dollars, so their tuition rates do not vary based on residency status.


The tuition rate for out-of-state students can be many times higher than the rate for residents. If you are currently attending college outside your state of residency, or if you are considering going to an out-of-state school in the future, here are some resources that might help you pay less for your education.


Find institutional scholarships and waivers


Colleges and universities want a diverse, competitive student body population. As a result, many institutions will offer tuition stipends, discounts, or waivers to recruit students from other states. Some examples include:


Merit-based assistance (for athletic skill, academic achievement, or other accomplishments)


Legacy discounts (for family members of alumni)



Border waivers (for out-of-state students from certain regions)


Some states have established regional tuition-reduction agreements to help students save on college costs.





Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE)





Western Regional Graduate Program (WRGP)





Professional Student Exchange Program (PSEP)


Students from 16 member states/territories can pay no more than 150% of in-state tuition for undergraduate degrees





Students in 16 member states/territories can pay in-state tuition for specific graduate programs





Students in 10 member states/territories can receive tuition reductions for professional healthcare programs



Midwest Student Exchange Program (MSEP)

Students in 10 member states can pay no more than 150% of in-state tuition at public institutions and can receive a 10% tuition reduction at private institutions


Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) Academic Common Market



SREB Regional Contract Program

Students in 15 member states can pay in-state tuition at public colleges if their home state does not offer their intended major



Students in 15 member states can receive tuition discounts at public and private colleges if they pursue professional health degrees

New England

New England Regional Student Program (RSP)

Students in 6 member states can pay discounted tuition if their home state does not offer their intended major


Explore regional discounts

Some states have established regional tuition-reduction agreements to help students save on college costs.

In order to receive the benefits of these programs, your current state and the state where you will attend college both have to participate in the same regional discount program. Look for your states in the map below:



Take advantage of banded tuition

Colleges usually charge tuition per credit hour, but some schools implement a “banded” or “plateau” tuition rates in order to help students complete their degree on time. As an example, if your school offers banded tuition, you may be charged the same for taking 15 credit hours during the semester as you would have been for taking 12. You can find tuition rate schedules on your college’s website.



Establish residency

As appealing as it may be to return home every summer to see your friends and family, you may want to consider staying in your new state over the summer to attend school or work. Most states require students to live in their borders for a specific continuous amount of time to establish residency – a few extra months could save you thousands of dollars in tuition. Residency requirements vary from state to state, and you may be ineligible to establish residency if you are participating in one of the regional tuition discount programs discussed earlier in this blog, so it is best to check with the financial aid office at your college to learn about your new state’s specific residency requirements.

While college costs are a serious matter, money should not be the only factor you consider when deciding where to attend college. Culture, size, location, and fields of study are just a few things you should keep in mind when you choose your school. If an out-of-state college is the right fit for you, rest assured there are resources available to help you afford it.