Report Highlights. In the United States, public 4-year undergraduate degrees have an average out-of-state tuition of $26,382 vs. $9,212 for the same degree in-state.
- Vermont is the state with the highest average in-state tuition among four-year institutions: $16,604.
- Florida is the state with the lowest average in-state tuition among four year institutions: $4,443.
- Vermont has the highest average out-of-state tuition among four-year institutions: $39,947.
- Florida has the lowest average out-of-state tuition among four-year institutions: $18,456.
- Public 2-year undergraduate degrees have an average out-of-state tuition of $7,917 vs. $3,313 for the same degree in-state.
Understanding In-State Vs. Out-of-State
These terms refer to the tuition rates charged by public colleges and universities for students who are residents of the state the institution is located in vs. the rates charged for students who are not residents. Tuition rates may also be listed as “resident” or “non-resident.” Even out-of-state online students may find themselves paying these rates, but some colleges with large distance learning programs offer discounts.
- Most public institutions receive state tax revenue to subsidize their expenses, so a student (or their parents) who has paid taxes in that state receives a lower tuition rate.
- Students who are coming from out-of-state have not contributed to the operations of public institutions in the state with their taxes and are therefore assigned a higher rate.
- Private schools do not generally charge higher rates for out-of-state students.
- Vermont has the highest average out-of-state tuition for four-year public institutions, with out-of-state students paying $39,947 in 2020.
- In comparison, Vermont’s in-state rate was $16,604.
- Florida has the lowest average out-of-state tuition among public four-year institutions, coming in at $18,456 for nonresidents.
- In comparison, Florida’s in-state rate was $4,443.
|State||Out-of-State Tuition||In-State Tuition|
|District of Columbia||$12,416||$5,888|
Among four-year public institutions, the top three with the highest in-state tuition rates in the 2020-21 academic year were Medical University of South Carolina, Oregon Health & Science University, and the College of William and Mary. Among four-year public institutions, the top three with the highest out-of-state tuition rates in the 2020-21 academic year were the University of Virginia, the University of Michigan, and the College of William and Mary.
- Medical University of South Carolina with tuition at $26,045 is the most expensive in-state public college.
- Oregon Health & Science University with tuition at $24,250 is the 2nd most expensive in-state public college.
- College of William and Mary with tuition at $23,628 is the 3rd most expensive in-state public college.
- University of Virginia with tuition at $52,945 is the most expensive out-of-state public college.
- University of Michigan with tuition at $51,200 is the 2nd most expensive out-of-state public college.
- College of William and Mary with tuition at $46,283 is the 3rd most expensive out-of-state public college.
- In 2021, the cost of attending University of Denver, a private four-year university, is $67,953 for both in-state and out-of-state students.
- In 2021, the cost of attending Colorado School of Mines, a public four-year university is $33,273 for students who are Colorado residents, compared to $53,973 for out-of-state students wanting to study in Colorado.
- The most expensive tuition rate in the United States among all institutions in 2021 was at Columbia University, at $62,430 for tuition and fees in the 2020-21 academic year (both in and out-of-state rate).
- The most expensive in-state tuition rate in the United States among two-year institutions in 2021 was at Landmark College, at $59,100 for tuition and fees in the 2020-21 academic year.
Regional Exchange/State Reciprocity Agreements
Many states are part of an exchange program where students living within their region can qualify for discounted tuition rates even if they are technically non-residents. Some states also have reciprocity agreements with a bordering state with fewer qualifications needed, such as the New Mexico-Colorado Tuition Reciprocity Agreement.
- Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE).
- Midwest Student Exchange (MSEP).
- New England Regional Student Program (RSP).
- Academic Common Market.
- The New Mexico-Colorado Tuition Reciprocity Agreement allows an equal number of students from each state to enroll in the other state at in-state tuition prices.
Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE)
Founded in 1953, the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) incorporates the states in the western region of the United States.
- In the 2019-20 academic year, students in this region saved over $451 million in tuition costs.
- WICHE programs offer savings on out-of-state tuition at over 160 universities, colleges, and healthcare programs.
- Under WICHE’s PSEP program, a student could save between $32,600 to $130,600 on tuition during their completion of a program, depending on their field of study.
- Under WICHE’s WRGP graduate program, students save an average of $14,162 in tuition.
|State||WICHE Program Highlights|
|The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands||
Midwest Student Exchange (MSEP)
The Midwest Student Exchange Program is a multi-state tuition reciprocity program in which public institutions agree not to charge out-of-state students more than 150% of their in-state resident tuition rate. Private colleges offer 10% reduction off their tuition rates instead.
- The Midwest Student Exchange Program saves $81.1 million total annually for out-of-state students.
- Students typically save between $500 and $5,000 annually in the program.
- Online courses are sometimes covered under this program – it varies by college and campus.
New England Regional Student Program (RSP)
The New England Regional Student Program has been established since 1957, it is also named the Tuition Break program. The New England RSP provides tuition savings to residents of the six New England states when they enroll in college within that region. The RSP program cannot be applied to private colleges.
- Students save about $8,200 annually under the RSP program.
- The RSP program saves $63.1 million total annually for out-of-state students.
- There are 82 participating public institutions.
- Certain majors and programs are not eligible under the RSP – high demand programs may not be eligible.
Academic Common Market
The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) maintains a tuition-savings program for college students in SREB states who want to pursue degrees in programs not offered in their home state. 15 states fully participate in the SREB Academic Common Market.
- There are over 2,200 undergraduate and graduate programs offered in the Academic Common Market.
- Distance learning programs are eligible under the Academic Common Market.
- Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia all participate in the Academic Common Market program.
- Florida and Texas only participate in the program at the graduate level.
How to Receive In-State Tuition Rates
Most institutions have strict residency requirements to qualify a student for in-state tuition rates. However, there are some ways students may able to attend an out-of-state institution at in-state prices.
- Some institutions offer a waiver or scholarship for exceptional GPA ACT/SAT scores.
- Universities may have a reciprocity agreement for students whose parents or family members are employed in higher education at another university.
- Spend a “gap” year as a resident full-time in the state where you intend to attend university, working, or undertaking an internship. Some institutions may offer discounted tuition rates during summer terms.
- Pay out-of-state rates during the first year it takes to establish residency and pay the remaining four years at in-state rates and utilize scholarships meant specifically for non-residents.
- If you have relatives who live in your state of choice, see if it is possible to stay with them during part of the year needed to establish residency.
- If one or both of your parents are in the military or state department, you may qualify for in-state tuition at most institutions nationwide
- Legacy scholarships are offered by some schools where a student is attending the same institution their parents attended.
Scholarships exist to offset the price of out-of-state tuition. Many of these scholarships are merit-based – based on the student’s GPA average in high school or their scores in the SAT or ACT. Award amounts are usually dependent on how well the student scored or how high their GPA was. A few scholarships are available for non-resident children of alumni.
- The University of Arizona offers the Recognition Award for a GPA between 2.75 and 3.49.
- The University of Arizona offers the Excellence Award for a GPA between 3.50 and 3.89.
- The University of Arizona offers the Distinction Award for a GPA beyond 3.90.
- At the University of Missouri, Level 1 of the Black & Gold Scholarship is for students with an SAT score of 1260 or higher or an ACT score of 27 or higher.
- At the University of Missouri, Level 2 of the Black & Gold Scholarship is for students with an SAT score of 1200-1250 or an ACT score between 25-26.
- Colorado State University has a a merit based scholarship starting from a GPA of 3.30.
- Utah State University offers non-resident freshman scholarship awards based on the campuses they go to.
- Michigan Technological University offers 15 different types of scholarships for non-resident students.
- The Akron Advantage Award offers $3,000 while the Presidential Scholarship offers annual amounts between $3,000 and $7,500.
- The College of Charleston in South Carolina’s needs based scholarship offers up to $6,000 annually.
- The College of Charleston in South Carolina’s merit based scholarship offers between $8,000 – $12,000 annually.
|University of Arizona||Recognition Award. Excellence Award.||Recognition Award offers $1,000 to $7,500. Excellence Awarded offers $12,500 to $20,000.|
|University of Missouri||Black & Gold Scholarship||Level 1 is a full waiver of tuition for 8 semesters. Level 2 is a half waiver of tuition for 8 semesters.|
|Colorado State University||Merit based scholarship||Awards a total of $10,000 to $40,000.|
|Mississippi State University||3 scholarships for non-resident freshman. 1 non-resident scholarship for children of Alumni||The alumni scholarship is worth $4,000. The freshman scholarships range from $6,000 to $58,000.|
|Utah State University||Presidential award, Deans award, Scholar award, Merit award, 100-mile Radius award, WUE award||Award amounts range from $5,700 to full tuition waiver ($47,000)|
|Michigan Technological University||Leading Scholar Award, National Scholars Program, Husky Innovation Leaders Award, Alumni Legacy Award, National Business Scholars Award, College of Business Impact Scholarship, Engineering Technology Scholars – Impress Programs, First Robotics Scholarship- for students in First or Vex Robotics, Visual and Performing Arts Talent Award, Summer Youth Scholars Award, Athletic Grants, Scholarships Sponsored by Individuals and Organizations, Military Family Education Award, Michigan Tech National Merit Scholarship, ROTC Scholarship.||Award amounts vary from $1,000 to $20,000 annually.|
|University of Vermont||Presidential Scholarship, Sustainable Futures Scholarship, Trustees Scholarship||Award amounts range from $3,000 to $20,000 annually.|
|Kent State University||Merit based scholarship||Award amount unspecified.|
|University of Akron||Akron Advantage Award. Presidential Scholarship.||Award amounts range from $3,000 to $7,500.|
|Collège of Charleston||Need based scholarship. Merit based scholarship.||Award amounts range from $6,000 to $12,000 annually.|
- The Chronicle of Higher Education: Tuition and Fees, 1998-99 Through 2020-21
- National Center for Education Statistics (NCES): Table 330.20 – Average Undergraduate Tuition and Fees
- National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA)
- Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE)
- WICHE: Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE)
- WICHE: Western Regional Graduate Program (WRGP)
- WICHE: Professional Student Exchange Program (PSEP)
- Southern Regional Education Board (SREB): Academic Common Market
- New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE): Tuition Break
- Midwestern Higher Education Compact: Midwest Student Exchange Program