How to Avoid Out-of-State Tuition Charges

Private colleges and universities usually charge the same tuition rate to in-state students as well as non-residents. But that’s not the case for most public schools in the U.S.

According to the College Board, in 2014-2015 the average four-year institution in America charged in-state students $9,139 in tuition and fees, while out-of state students were charged $22,958 in tuition and fees.

That means out-of-towners were charged 2.5 times as much for the same education. A lot of students and their parents don’t think this is particularly fair – not to mention affordable for the average American family trying to put a child through college.

One strategy to conquer the problem of out-of-state tuition at public schools is to pass on institutions with tuition surcharges and opt instead for a campus that has just one tuition rate for both residents and non-residents.

These public colleges and universities are sometimes known as “flat tuition” schools. But their tuition model can best be described as “one student, one rate.”

The Same Tuition Regardless of Residency

Examples of flat tuition schools that benefit non-residents include the University of Minnesota, Morris, and another Minnesota public college, Bemidji State University. In the 2014-2015 academic year, Bemidji State charged tuition and fees of $8,140 to all students, regardless of their residency.

Likewise, Wilmington University in Delaware does not charge tuition based on where a student resides. Residents and non-residents alike pay equal tuition that is based on which of the school’s four campuses students attend.

Note that these schools’ tuition structure is different from two other forms of “flat tuition” offered by many schools.

Some institutions guarantee a “flat tuition” to students by locking in fixed pricing for four or five years without any tuition hikes. As explained in a previous article, this can benefit residents and non-residents alike. So campuses offering this option may be more attractive if you go out of state.

Another type of “flat tuition” model refers to colleges that don’t charge tuition on a “per credit” basis. Instead, these institutions impose one set amount of tuition for full time students, regardless of how many units or credits you take.

Most commonly, schools with this pricing structure allow students to take anywhere from 12 to 20 credits. No matter the number of credits or courses taken within those guidelines, students will pay the same flat tuition price.

For those willing to take extra classes during the academic year, this type of “flat rate” tuition model can result in thousands of dollars in savings and even allow students to graduate in three years. Like the other “flat tuition” deals, this pricing model also benefits residents as well as out-of-state students.

Flat Tuition Schools Are Dwindling

Unfortunately, as I explained in College Secrets, if you’re looking for a “one student, one rate” type of campus, there aren’t a huge number of flat tuition schools from which to choose. Due to economic circumstances, their numbers have dwindled as some colleges have shifted away from this model in recent years.College Secrets by Lynnette Khalfani-Cox

For instance, Eastern Oregon University was previously a flat rate school that charged all students about $7,000 in tuition. But starting in the 2012-2013 school year, it began charging non-resident tuition.

Luckily, students from two states — Idaho and Washington — continue to be charged resident tuition rates. Also, some other students were grandfathered in and locked in resident rates at the campus.

For the 2014-2015 school year, those non-residents secured a more than $10,000 discount since resident tuition at Eastern Oregon University was $6,030 and non-resident tuition stood at $16,110.

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