Last Updated: Aug 1, 2017
Attention students who want to go to school out of state but are deterred by crazy costs: these public colleges and universities offer some of the most affordable out-of-state tuition prices in the country!
By the time students are ready to walk across the stage at their high school graduation, four long years of the same faces and an increasingly menial workload often drive seniors to dream of nothing more than to move as far away from their hometown as possible. Many students are drawn to out-of-state schools because, after all, what better way to free yourself from your high school life than to put thousands of miles between your dorm room and your parents’ room? What are the chances you’ll have an awkward run-in with an old high school acquaintance while you’re studying across the country, right?
However, this adventure does not come without considerable costs. Out-of-state tuition is often much more expensive, driving many students to, well, drive to a college in state rather than fly across the country. In fact, the National Center for Education Statistics found that in the 2010–2011 school year, out-of-state students paid on average almost $9,000 more per year than in-state students. Even this number seems lower than the realities that many students looking out of state must face. When in-state tuition often comes with lower price tags and extra privileges for residents—while out-of-state schools promise only exorbitant tuitions and travel expenses—it can be difficult to convince your wallet, and your parents, that going to that far-away school is truly worth it.
But for those students who are dead-set on moving far, far away, there is hope. First, here is a list of the most affordable public out-of-state tuitions in the country.
- University of Texas of the Permian Basin: $7,866
Located in Odessa, Texas, this college carries the pride and prestige of the UT brand without the high out-of-state burdens for which UT Austin is famous (or, rather, infamous.) TPB offers a practical alternative to its 4,600 students and others wanting the benefits of the UT system without the hefty price or overwhelming enrollment sizes of its bigger campuses.
- Gordon State College: $6,761
Located in Barnesville, Georgia, this is a unique college as it is both public and personal, educating a small student body of only 4,000 students in a rural setting not too far from Atlanta.
- Alcorn State University: $6,552
A small, rural HBCU in Lorman, Mississippi totaling 2,900 students.
- Minot State University: $6,568
An equally small and rural school in North Dakota, serving 3,000 primarily regional students.
- Central State University: $8,096
Less than 2,000 students call Wilberforce, Ohio, their home for a specialized, intimate regional education at CSU. You must really want to go out of state for this one.
These schools are worthy options for the students who are absolutely itching to move out of state or those interested in studying in one of these colleges’ specialties who want an intimate, calm college experience.
However, most colleges with tuitions as low as these are either small, regional, or do not appeal to a wide variety of student and academic interests. For those looking for a more traditional college experience at a more mainstream school, here are some larger and more notable public universities that throw some extra bones to out-of-state students.
- Mississippi State University
MSU’s standard out-of-state tuition is about $20,000—not low, admittedly, but much lower than many schools of the same caliber. What makes MSU most attractive to out-of-state students, however, is their tendency to give plentiful aid packages specifically to out-of-staters. MSU gives merit-based aid packages to a whopping 78% of out-of-state students, averaging about $13,000 each, based on standardized test scores or GPA. For example, a 30+ ACT score could get your out-of-state tuition waived, replaced instead by a significantly discounted in-state cost.
- University of Missouri
I applied to the University of Missouri–Columbia (or, affectionately nicknamed, “Mizzou”) from Houston in 2016 and was very impressed by the love this university shows for out-of-staters. While I eventually chose UT instead, my decision had nothing to do with tuition. Not only does Mizzou offer automatic admission that is, quite frankly, pretty easy to earn (especially for the kind of student that frequents CollegeXpress), but they also offer at least five scholarships that are solely for out-of-state students. This includes the Mark Twain Nonresident Scholarship, which most people can receive without any extra effort. The only requirements are to live out of state, score at least a 27 on the ACT or a 1280 on the new SAT, and be in the top 50% of your class. Just like that, there’s $7,000- $10,000 off out-of-state tuition.
- Louisiana State University
Even in Texas, it seems like more students are “geauxing” to Louisiana State than Texas State in the fall. This may be due to their ever-recognizable motto or their nationally ranked football team, but it probably has more to do with their impressive out-of-state tuition deals. LSU is ranked one of the best values in the country, as a Tiger coming from outside Louisiana can research over 1,000 projects in everything from energy to communication for a discounted non-resident price that can be as low as $5,000. In fact, 85% of LSU students receive some form of financial aid, out-of-staters constituting much of this. The Tiger Nation scholarship offers $3,355 a year to out-of-staters with a minimum 3.0 GPA and 1240 new SAT composite score. And just to show some love for its neighboring Lone Star state, the same scholarship is awarded just for Texas residents in the Texas Tigers Scholarship. LSU boasts that their out-of-state aid has increased by 35% since 2014, so these deals are most likely only geauxing to get sweeter.
- Colorado School of Mines
One of the premier engineering schools in the country promises to teach mining without digging too much into your wallet. However, Mines’ non-resident aid isn’t made obvious to most applicants. I know several of my STEM-inclined friends shied away from Mines because of its hefty price despite its equal prestige. This is understandable—their expected 2017–2018 net costs show that Mines carries a sticker price of $1,174 per credit hour for out-of-state students, compared to just $539 for Colorado residents. This means that non-residents pay almost twice as much simply because of their home address. However, don’t be disheartened. There are still many ways to take advantage of this great school, Coloradoan or not. Closer examination shows that 70% of out-of-state students receive financial aid averaging over $12,700. Moreover, every non-resident is offered an automatic scholarship of $9,000–$14,000 with a minimum 27 ACT and 3.25 GPA. Additionally, their E-Days Scholarship provides for resident-tuition for four years, meaning out-of-staters have an opportunity to take more than $30,000 off their bill.
- Michigan Technological University
Just like the School of Mines, Michigan Tech can offer a high-tech education to a low-budget student. This school’s value scores very high, with 68% of out-of-state students receiving aid usually totaling over $11,000, whittling the net price down to just under $9,000. Over 13 scholarships are offered specifically for non-residents. Some are easily attainable and automatic, such as the National Scholars Program scholarship, which grants $12,500 to out-of-staters with a minimum 3.0 GPA and 27 ACT or 1290 SAT. Others are, admittedly, more competitive, many requiring essays and résumés, but promising more financial aid than most schools of this caliber offer just to out-of-state students.
These are just a few of the public schools that have dedicated themselves to leveling the playing field across the country by giving non-residents the best deals possible. If none of these schools interest you, don’t worry. Every college has some kind of program or scholarship designed to attract students from all across the country. Sometimes it requires digging through the bowels of the complicated financial information on their websites, but rest assured that out-of-state students rarely have to pay the sticker price.
Here’s hoping that more universities, mine included, give more thought to diversifying the origins of their student bodies by adopting the more charitable scholarship deals offered by the colleges above. Tuition should not be decided by one’s address, but by one’s accomplishments.
50 Most Affordable Public Schools for Out-of-State Students—AffordableColleges.com
10 Universities With the Cheapest Out-of-State Tuition—U.S. News & World Report
In-State vs. Out-of-State Tuition—Heath Resource Center, The George Washington University
10 Public Schools That Award Merit Aid to the Most Out-of-State Students—U.S. News & World Report
Scholarship Information—Colorado School of Mines Administrative Departments