Public colleges and universities charge non-residents higher tuition than in-state residents. Therefore, students who want to attend an out-of-state public university often think they can simply move to the desired state and pay lower tuition.
It’s generally not that easy. There’s a difference between establishing general residency and residency for tuition purposes. Each state has its own rules for establishing residency for tuition purposes. Students are required to live anywhere from 6 to 24 months before becoming eligible for in-state tuition.
Living in the state is only the beginning. In addition, students will generally be required to provide additional proof of intent to live in the state other than just for tuition purposes. This can include:
- Driver’s License
- Car registration
- Utility Bills
- Voter registration
- Local Bank
- State Income Tax State
- Wage statements
- Hunting or Fishing License
- Register for selective service in state
However, it is possible that will still not be enough. Some states such as Arkansas classifies all students under the age of 23 as legally dependent on their parents. As long as the parents don’t live in the state, the student will not qualify for in-state tuition.
Alternative Ways to Qualify for In-State Tuition
There are some other ways to out-of-state students can lower their tuition at public universities.
There are 12 colleges that reported out-of-state tuition as the same as in-state. Another 27 public institution’s out-of-state tuition is no more than $5,000 higher than the in-state tuition.
Some universities will charge students in-state tuition if they receive a minimum scholarship or have qualifying test scores or GPA. Others will classify children of alumni as in-state residents for tuition purposes.
There are also regional tuition discount programs that allow students to attend out-of-state public universities and pay a discounted rate. These programs may be limited by majors and not all schools participate.
States will have different policies for military personnel and their families as well as state employees or other special categories. These policies can also vary between schools in the same state so it’s always a good idea to check with individual institutions.