Do Community Colleges Have Out-of-State Tuition?

Yes, community colleges, like all other public educational institutions, have out-of-state tuition. Out-of-state tuition can potentially be as high as three or four times the in-state tuition cost depending on the college. But many students don’t realize that there are ways to reduce out-of-state tuition and this guide will help you do just that.

Key Takeaways

Yes, community colleges, like all other public educational institutions, have out-of-state tuition. Out-of-state tuition can potentially be as high as three or four times the in-state tuition cost depending on the college. But many students don’t realize that there are ways to reduce out-of-state tuition and this guide will help you do just that.

Many students wonder, “Can I go to a community college out of state?” 

Yes, of course, you can. Many students are drawn to large and well-reputed colleges because of their diverse courses and vibrant student bodies and this sometimes means that the student is considering education outside of his own state of residence.

However, because public colleges and universities are supported by funds from state governments, they do not offer the same discounted tuition for out-of-state students. This means the cost of tuition can go substantially higher if you are looking at an out-of-state community college.

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The good news is that there are ways through which you can substantially reduce your out-of-state tuition and through this in-depth guide we will explain how tuitions at public institutes work and how you can have your tuition reduced.

Looking for affordable tuition?

Unmudl offers many cheap courses at some of the best community colleges!

Do community colleges have out-of-state tuition?

The short answer is yes, they do have out-of-state tuition. It would seem the more intelligent thing to do is simply apply to a community college within your state and avail the subsidized tuition but there are many valid reasons why students want to consider a community college that is not in the same state as the state of their residence.

Sometimes colleges and universities within your state do not offer a specific course that you are looking for, or even if they do, the program is not as reputed as one that is being offered at a community college in another state.

At other times students are looking for something very specific like a large and diverse student body to get the full university experience. Whatever the reasons are, many students consciously opt to study in another state. 

But before you get excited and start signing up for your dream college you have to look at the practical side of things and consider the impact on tuition which could be as high as four times that of a college near you.

Related: How to apply to a community college - a complete guide

Before we get any further, let's first look at what in-state and out-of-state tuition is and why the government has a policy for them.

So, what’s in-state vs. out-of-state?

Community colleges like all other public institutions are funded by the state government instead of the federal government. This means that they are meant to help subsidize the cost of education for students from their own state.

This is important for community colleges because unlike private institutions they were introduced to make education more accessible to people who otherwise couldn’t afford it. This, however, means that they cannot offer discounts set aside to help potential students with a permanent residence in their state to students from residences in other states.

Having said that, it does not mean that community colleges discourage or make it difficult for out-of-state students to join. On the contrary, both public colleges and universities actively seek out-of-state and even international students because it means extra revenue for them.

Related: Free community colleges that you can go to

A multi ethnic group of College students
Photo by drobotdean from freepik

Why is there so much difference between in-state and out-of-state tuitions

Besides what we just explained above on state subsidies for community colleges, there is another important reason why the tuition is so much higher for non-residents.

Students and/or their parents pay taxes to the state the community college belongs to. This means that they have been contributing through taxes to the state's education system for years. Students from other states have made no such contributions in any form.

Because of this reason, colleges provide subsidized tuition to reward taxpayers for their support and also to account for the tax dollars that the residents have already paid in order to support education in their state.

What is the average cost difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition?

The answer to this varies widely as each state and each college in that state have different tuition policies. 

But for the purpose of comparisons, we will look at averages across institutions and across states.

The average cost of tuition offered to in-state students for the year 2021-2022 at a ranked public college is $10,388 which is on average 73% less than the tuition for a private university or college student. 

Private universities are charging, on an average, $38,185, U.S. News data shows. The average cost for out-of-state or international students meanwhile is $22,698.

Again, these are just the average tuition prices. The actual tuition varies greatly from college to college with the top colleges asking for $40,000 plus.

Can’t I just change my residency to a different state?

In general, we don’t recommend it. I mean, if you intend to shift residence to another state for other reasons besides just aiming to collect in-state tuition benefits, then sure. 

However, over the years, states have built elaborate rules to safeguard the interest of in-state students from people claiming residency by dubious means. These domicile rules vary from state to state but you must understand the four below because they are important:

1. The 12 months rule: A potential candidate must have resided at least twelve months in that state with proof of residence prior to applying.

2. Proof of residency: You will have to give proof that you have resided by furnishing any combination of documents mentioned below

  1. Driver’s license issued by the state
  2. Vehicle registration in the state
  3. Voter registration card
  4. Proof of income tax paid in the state

3. Purpose of relocation: Many states now no longer accept residency requests if the purpose of moving the residence was solely educational. The student must show other reasons why they moved and the best way to do that is to show financial independence in that state for 12 months (basically get a job in the state for a year)

4. Dependency: If a parent shows that they are residents and have declared the student as a dependent on tax papers then the student is considered a resident. The good news is that if the parent moves to another state, the student’s residency may not change. Also, if the student's parents reside in separate states (they may be separated or divorced) the student has the right to claim residency in both states.

5. Military service: If one or both parents are serving in the U.S. Military then the college may offer you an in-state tuition fee no matter what state or community college you attend. This is a huge advantage if you have the option.

5 ways you can save on out-of-state tuition

So now that you understand what out-of-state tuition is, it is time to understand what your options are.

As mentioned earlier, students seek colleges out-of-state for many genuine reasons. But the large price tag that comes along with that choice could be a bitter pill to swallow.

There are a few ways, however, to offset that large price tag, and here are 5 of them:

1. Find a community college with low out-of-state tuition to start with

Different colleges have different tuition prices and while in-state tuition will always be lower than out-of-state tuition, it is entirely possible to find a college that has a comparatively lower out-of-state tuition.

Here are some colleges that have reasonable out-of-state tuition rates: For a lot more community college options and details, visit Unmudl.

2. Find community colleges that offer in-state rates to good students

There are many community colleges out of state that are eager to attract brilliant out-of-state students. In order to do so, they offer scholarships or waivers that reduce out-of-state tuition to almost the same as in-state tuition.

A good example of this is the University of Alabama which can offer you in-state tuition if you have had a GPA of 3.5 in high school, scored a 30-31 on your ACTs, or obtained 1360-1410 on the SATs. In such cases, the University of Alabama has a financial reward of $20,000 which majorly offsets out-of-state tuition.

Even if you managed to get a 23 on your ACT and had a 3.5 GPA in high school (or a 26 on the ACT and a 3.0 GPA) there are colleges like the University of New Mexico that offers the Amigo Scholarship valued at $15,500 a year.

The best way is to contact the community college you are interested in and ask them if they have any programs that can help offset the out-of-state tuition.

Student moving into a new place
Photo by pch.vector from feepik

3. Legacy scholarships

Many colleges offer discounted rates even for non-residents provided you are a legacy student. Legacy basically means your parent or grandparent graduated from that particular institution. 

All you have to do is show that you meet the basic community college requirements which are already very reasonable as far as colleges go along with proof of graduation of your parent or grandparent.

4. Reciprocity agreements

Something else that most students are not aware of is reciprocity agreements between community colleges with neighboring states. These simply are agreements between states to offer discounted rates to out-of-state students from participating member states.

Of course, there are prerequisites attached to these discounts. These vary from college to college and from course to course. However, if you meet the criteria, reciprocity agreements can be a source of a lot of relief from heavy out-of-state tuition. 

For your convenience we have listed some of the major reciprocity agreements that are currently active:

1. Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE):

This is an agreement between the following states and offers discounted out-of-state tuition up to 150% of the in-state cost. This is very reasonable considering what out-of-state tuition is like.

  1. Alaska
  2. Arizona
  3. California
  4. Colorado
  5. Guam
  6. Hawaii
  7. Idaho
  8. Montana
  9. Nevada
  10. New Mexico
  11. North Dakota
  12. Oregon
  13. South Dakota
  14. The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
  15. Utah
  16. Washington
  17. Wyoming

2. Midwest Student Exchange (MSEP):

Participating colleges offer 150% of in-state tuition on specific programs. Please check with the college concerned before applying. The following states are participating in the MESP program.

  1. Illinois
  2. Indiana
  3. Kansas
  4. Minnesota
  5. Missouri
  6. Nebraska
  7. North Dakota
  8. Ohio
  9. Wisconsin

3. New England Regional Student Program (RSP):

The RSP reciprocity agreement offers tuition breaks up to $8,265 on average to students from participating states listed below.

  1. Connecticut
  2. Maine
  3. Massachusetts
  4. New Hampshire
  5. Rhode Island
  6. Vermont

4. Academic Common Market:

This program is available to students only if the degree that they want to pursue is not available in their home state. The program offers in-state tuition to out-of-state students.

  1. Alabama
  2. Arkansas
  3. Delaware
  4. Florida (only at the graduate level)
  5. Georgia
  6. Kentucky
  7. Louisiana
  8. Maryland
  9. Mississippi
  10. Oklahoma
  11. South Carolina
  12. Tennessee
  13. Texas (only at the graduate level)
  14. Virginia
  15. West Virginia

5. Reciprocity agreements between specific states:

Some states have reciprocity agreements with each other and students get a benefit of in-state tuition. Some colleges will also let go of out-of-state tuition if students live in border counties even if it is in the neighboring state.

Good examples of these state agreements are: 

  1. Missouri-Kansas
  2. Wisconsin-Minnesota
  3. New Mexico-Colorado
  4. Ohio-West Virginia.

6. DC Tuition Assistance Grant Program (DCTAG):

Because students resident in Washington DC have very limited options when it comes to colleges the DCTAG program offers a grant of $10,000 to cover out-of-state tuition costs.

7. Attend a federal service academy

One option that not many students consider but is a solid viable option nonetheless, is to enroll in a federal service academy. Here are the five federal service academies:

  1. The U.S. Naval Academy
  2. The U.S. Military Academy at West Point
  3. The U.S. Air Force Academy
  4. The U.S. Coast Guard Academy
  5. The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy

You will have to serve five years in the military post-graduation but you will get paid to do so with a guaranteed job!

Final Word

Out-of-state tuition can be a huge burden on your pocket if you don’t have ways to offset it. In this guide, we showed you five ways you can offset tuition if you are planning to go to a community college in a state other than the state of your permanent residence.

All of these five options are viable methods used by many students to help them ease the burden of out-of-state tuition. We hope our guide was useful for you. For many other great guides, tips, and articles on studying at community college visit our blog!

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