Skip to Main Content

How to Get Out-of-State College Education at an In-State Tuition Rate

The college decision is one of the more important moments of a young adult’s life and making the best decision can be rather challenging when analyzing all the factors, whether it be the cost of tuition, location, or the programs offered by an institution.  Over the last decade, we have seen rising college costs weigh more heavily on students with increasing numbers rejecting their first choice and opting for a school that is more cost effective.  With this development in mind, more and more kids are opting to attend an in-state school in an effort to make college costs more reasonable.  However, as universities continue to get more in-state applicants, they are at risk of having a less diverse student body than they would prefer.  To combat this, some colleges have launched regional programs and tuition reciprocity agreements between neighboring states that offer the potential opportunity for students to attend out-of-state institutions at discounted rates.

Many states participate in distinct regional student exchange programs in which a group of states specific to a geographic region belong to an interstate compact to advance and coordinate higher education initiatives through regional cooperation and resource sharing. These programs are not financial aid based programs and you don’t need to meet any aid requirements to receive tuition discounts.  If you receive a tuition discount, you may still be eligible to apply for financial assistance at your school of interest.  Many regions cater to students who pursue degrees that are not offered in their state of residence.  For example, if your major is not offered in-state, but is offered out-of-state by one of the participating institutions, you may qualify for in-state tuition without being a resident of that state. Other regions offer discounts to students pursuing specific degrees like dentistry, medicine, optometry, podiatry, veterinary medicine, or osteopathic medicine to name a few.  Both part-time and online programs are included in some of these exchange programs.

The various regions are broken down as follows: Midwestern Higher Education Compact (“MHEC”), New England Board of Higher Education (“NEBHE”), Southern Regional Education Board (“SREB”), and Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (“WICHE”).  As an example, the MHEC includes Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, and Wisconsin.  Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, and South Dakota are also in this region but they currently are not eligible to participate in the program.  Any state that participates in the MHEC allows students from those states to attend a public institution in any of the other seven participating states at a discounted rate.  In the case of MHEC, the discount on out-of-state public universities is capped at 150% of the in-state tuition.  Private universities offer a 10% discount for eligible states.  Not all of these regional compacts act in the same manner and can vary in the amount of discount offered, institutions/programs involved, and the application process.

In addition to student exchange programs, some states also have direct tuition reciprocity agreements with other states or specific counties in other states – and even neighboring Canadian provinces as in the case of North Dakota and Minnesota – that allow their residents to take advantage of in-state tuition.   Although Ohio is not eligible to participate in the MHEC compact, they do have several direct tuition reciprocity agreements with states like Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, and West Virginia.  Reciprocity agreements vary widely from state to state and even by county within the states.

Next time you’re involved in the college search process, don’t forget about these programs as they could potentially help cut one of the biggest costs most young adults and families face today, college tuition.


Written by

Recent News