Applying to establish residency for in-state college tuition is a hassle. It can take a year to complete, and it might force you to sever all ties with your home state.
Fortunately, there’s another way to score in-state tuition for out-of-state students — regional reciprocity programs.
With out-of-state tuition for four-year public schools costing an average of $9,000 more than in-state rates, according to The College Board, this option is worth your attention.
Another path to in-state tuition for out-of-state students
Sometimes referred to as tuition exchange programs, regional reciprocity programs give students one more way to score discounted college tuition. If you’re among them, you could use these programs to afford schools beyond your state’s borders.
The four major regional programs limit you to neighboring states. Each program has its subtleties, but all four share certain characteristics.
For one, these programs allow you to secure discounted tuition (not room and board or books) at an out-of-state school if you major in a particular field. You might also have to maintain a baseline GPA entering and during your enrollment.
For another, you’ll want to apply for aid as early as possible, as each program or specific school’s allotment could dry up. The application process itself depends on your region. You might apply directly with your school or have to work through your state’s education board initially.
At Arizona State University (ASU), for example, you’re directed to complete a typical admissions application and choose an approved major. After being admitted to ASU, you would be informed whether you qualify for in-state tuition or discounted tuition.
4 regional programs to help you qualify for in-state tuition
Just as in-state tuition requirements vary from school to school, each region is a little bit different. Let’s work our way from west to east.
Only one of the following programs will apply to you, so feel free to skip ahead to the one that does.
1. Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE)
States covered: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education helps 40,500 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students secure discounted tuition each year.
Through the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) program, students looking to attend two- or four-year public schools can save money on tuition. You can use the WUE’s search engine to find schools and their admission requirements. There’s also a complete list of participating schools.
Last year, the WUE program saved 34,000 students about $265 million. You could score a reduced tuition of 150 percent of a school’s in-state rate. Here’s an example of your potential savings:
|WUE-reduced out-of-state tuition||$15,000 (150 percent $10,000)|
2. Midwest Student Exchange Program (MSEP)
States covered: Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, and Wisconsin (Iowa and South Dakota do not currently participate.)
As part of the Midwestern Higher Education Compact, the Midwest Student Exchange Program (MSEP) website makes it simple for you to find participating colleges. Enter your home state, the degree type you’re seeking, and the type of university you’d like to attend — and, voila, you’ll see a list of possible landing spots.
Another benefit of your region’s program: the ability to apply for discounted tuition rates at private schools as well as public.
The MSEP site also provides you estimates of how much you could save by leveraging the regional program.
At approved public schools, you’ll pay no more than 150 percent of the in-state tuition rate; private schools provide a 10 percent discount. The MSEP saves participating students between $500 and $5,000 per year.
3. Academic Common Market (ACA)
States covered: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia (Florida and Texas only offer discounted tuition to graduate students.)
A part of the Southern Regional Education Board, the Academic Common Market includes over 1,900 degree programs at the undergraduate and graduate level. It could be your go-to resource if you can’t qualify for in-state tuition in your dream school’s state.
Like the country’s other regional organizations, it places restrictions based on your specific program of study. It won’t take long toying with the ACA’s search engine to learn that.
There’s one more hurdle to clear at the ACA. Before applying for the lower tuition rate, you’ll have to apply to your state’s education board to be certified as a resident. In the process, you might be required to supply your:
- Driver’s license
- Voter registration
- State tax return
In-state tuition might be waiting for you on the other side. Unlike other regional programs, the ACA and its participating schools award in-state tuition for out-of-state students in unique majors.
4. New England Regional Student Program (RSP)
States covered: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont
Under the watch of the New England Board of Higher Education, the New England Regional Student Program (RSP), also known as Tuition Break, covers more than 800 undergraduate and graduate degree programs at 82 public schools in the region.
Like other regional programs, your major might limit the number of schools where you can score discounted out-of-state tuition. The RSP’s search engine will whittle down your list.
If you do find the right school for you, the savings could be substantial. As an out-of-state student, you can pay between 50 percent and 175 percent of the in-state rate, depending on the school.
During the 2016-2017 academic year, 9,000-plus New England residents saved $60 million in tuition. The average full-time student saw a tuition cut of $8,033.
Good news if you’re not sure about your college choice: The RSP program also allows transfer students at 1,000-plus bachelor’s degree programs at 41 public schools to qualify for lower tuition.
More ways to skirt in-state tuition requirements
If you’re beginning to navigate the financial aid maze, it’s important to know that regional tuition-break programs are just one pathway to in-state tuition for out-of-state students.
There might also be school-specific programs depending on your home state, or even your home county. Here are a couple of examples.
- State example: Minnesota residents can qualify for a lower nonresident tuition rate at the University of North Dakota.
- County example: Residents of seven Indiana counties (Clark, Crawford, Floyd, Harrison, Perry, Scott, and Washington) are eligible for the in-state tuition rate at the nearby University of Louisville in Kentucky.
At every step of the financing process, consult your school’s in-state tuition requirements and your home state’s grant aid programs.
Although it’s not required for reciprocity programs, you should fill out the FAFSA every year you’re in school. In case your regional program doesn’t fit your needs, you’ll still be able to apply for financial aid that way.
Racking up scholarships can also help you avoid student loans, or at least from taking out more of them. They could even be your ticket to your dream out-of-state school. If you come up short, now you know how to take advantage of your region’s tuition-discount program.
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1 Important Disclosures for College Ave.
College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.
Rates shown are for the College Ave Undergraduate Loan product and include autopay discount. The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. Variable rates may increase after consummation.
Information advertised valid as of 4/22/2021. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation. Lowest advertised rates require selection of full principal and interest payments with the shortest available loan term.
2 Sallie Mae Disclaimer: Click here for important information. Terms, conditions and limitations apply.
3 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change and state law restriction. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900), NMLS Consumer Access. If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. If you choose to complete an application, we will conduct a hard credit pull, which may affect your credit score. All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 0.15% effective Jan 1, 2021 and may increase after consummation.
4 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
5 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
UNDERGRADUATE LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.23% to 11.26% annual percentage rate (“APR”) (with autopay), variable rates from 1.22% to 11.66% APR (with autopay). GRADUATE LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.13% to 11.37% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 1.12% to 11.73% APR (with autopay). MBA AND LAW SCHOOL LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.30% to 11.52% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 1.29% to 11.89% APR (with autopay). PARENT LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.60% to 10.76% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 1.22% to 11.16% APR (with autopay). For variable rate loans, the variable interest rate is derived from the one-month LIBOR rate plus a margin and your APR may increase after origination if the LIBOR increases. Changes in the one-month LIBOR rate may cause your monthly payment to increase or decrease. Interest rates for variable rate loans are capped at 13.95%, unless required to be lower to comply with applicable law. Lowest rates are reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. If approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, the repayment option you select, the term and amount of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. The SoFi 0.25% autopay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. Information current as of 4/1/2021. Enrolling in autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi. SoFi Lending Corp., licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. NMLS #1121636 (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)..
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
Undergraduate Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 2.76% – 7.14% (2.76% – 7.14% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 3.01% – 7.50% (3.01% – 7.50% APR).
Graduate Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 2.19% – 6.73% (2.19% – 6.73% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 2.89% – 7.09% (2.89%-7.09% APR).
Business/Law Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 1.36% – 9.54% (1.36% – 8.82% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.13% – 9.84% (4.13% – 9.12% APR).
Medical/Dental Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 1.36% – 8.34% (1.36% – 8.04% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.03% – 8.64% (4.03% – 8.34% APR).
Parent Loan Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 2.10% – 7.41% (2.10%-7.41% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.69% – 7.83% (4.69% – 7.83% APR).
Bar Study Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 4.45% – 9.60% (4.45% – 9.53% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 7.39% – 12.94% (7.38% – 12.81% APR).
Medical Residency Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 3.55% – 7.05% (3.55% – 6.77% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 6.99% – 10.49% (6.97% – 10.07% APR).
Variable Rate Disclosure: Variable Rates are based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of March 1, 2021, the one-month LIBOR rate is 0.11%. Variable interest rates will fluctuate over the term of the loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. The maximum variable rate is the greater of 21.00% or Prime Rate plus 9.00%.
Fixed Rate Disclosure: Fixed rate ranges are based on applicable terms, level of degree, and presence of a co-signer.
Lowest Rate Disclosure: Lowest rates require a 5-year repayment term, immediate repayment, a graduate degree (where applicable), and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Rates are subject to additional terms and conditions, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
Federal Loan vs. Private Loan Benefits: Some federal student loans include unique benefits that the borrower may not receive with a private student loan, some of which we do not offer. Borrowers should carefully review federal benefits, especially if they work in public service, are in the military, are considering possible loan forgiveness options, are currently on or considering income based repayment options or are concerned about a steady source of future income and would want to lower their payments at some time in the future. When the borrower refinances, they waive any current and potential future benefits of their federal loans. For more information about federal student loan benefits and federal loan consolidation, visit http://studentaid.ed.gov/. We also have several resources available to help the borrower make a decision on our website including Should I Refinance My Student Loans? and our FAQs. Should I Refinance My Student Loans? includes a comparison of federal and private student loan benefits that we encourage the borrower to review.
Eligibility Criteria: Applicants must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or eligible non-citizen with a creditworthy U.S. citizen or permanent resident co-signer. For applicants who have not attained the age of majority in their state of residence, a co-signer is required. Citizens Bank reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. Citizens Bank private student loans are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application/Promissory Note, verification of application information, and if applicable, self-certification form, school certification of the loan amount, and student’s enrollment at a Citizens Bank participating school.
Loyalty Discount Disclosure: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower or their co-signer (if applicable) has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower and their co-signer (if applicable) have submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, or other student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, and VT and some products may have an associated cost. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate disclosed in the Loan Approval Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
Automatic Payment Discount Disclosure: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. Discount is not available when payments are not due, such as during forbearance. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account three or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.
7 Important Disclosures for Discover.
Lowest APRs shown for Discover Student Loans are available for the most creditworthy applicants for undergraduate loans, and include an interest-only repayment discount and a 0.25% interest rate reduction while enrolled in automatic payments.