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In State vs. Out of State: What's Best for You?

Should you go out of state or stay in state for college? Well, it all depends on what's best for you! Here are a few things to consider for each option.

Should you go out of state or stay in state for college? Well, it all depends on what’s best for you! Here are a few things to consider for each option.

So many factors contribute to your perfect college match. A big one is where the school is located, especially if you’re interested in going to a public college or university.

Do you want to spread your wings and travel across the country to an out-of-state school? Do you want to go to an in-state school near home (and maybe save your bank account)? Here are a few things to consider for each option.

Staying in state

  • Everybody knows that state schools are usually more budget-friendly than those that require a plane ticket. Attending a college or university in your home state can be a great way to save money for the future, and that’s not a bad thing. But this doesn’t mean you should compromise your dreams purely to attend a cheaper in-state school. There are thousands of resources that can help you save money (like that college search website CollegeXpress.com *ahem*). See the out-of-state tips below too to learn more about possible discounts!
  • Staying close to home is another benefit of attending a state school. Having the option of driving home for the weekend to see family and friends is a factor that some students might not consider that big of a deal when choosing a college. However, being a few miles away from your family can be great—not just for free food and laundry but also comfort and support when you need it.
  • A big pro of attending an in-state school is that you will know what you are getting into. Weather, demographics, and current trends are just a few of the things that will be old hat for you. Going to a school in your home state has its perks when it comes to comfort. Knowing the area and feel of the college can be an advantage if it allows you to focus on other aspects of college life, like getting involved in activities and working hard in your classes.
  • Some (if not many!) people who graduated from your high school will likely also be attending your in-state college. So there’s the potential for built-in buddies or maybe even roommates. (Though there’s also the potential for built-in lingering high school drama…)

Going out of state

  • Do it for the discount! Lots of schools offer discounts just for out-of-state students. You might get an out-of-state tuition waiver and/or benefit from a state’s tuition reciprocity agreement. (Plus, here’s everything you need to know about out-of-state tuition.) You never know what your financial aid package will be like until you apply to a given college, so an out-of-state school might be cheaper than you realize. Focus on finding colleges that fit you first, and don’t give up on a school’s affordability until you know for sure!
  • Going to college is your chance to experience change: change in weather, culture, scenery, everything! If you’re like me, you’ve lived in one place for most of your life. And although familiarity may be comfortable and easy, taking a step outside your comfort zone can be a wonderful thing—and a big part of the whole college experience. Getting to dress in cute clothes for the different seasons, experiencing the atmosphere of a new town on a Friday night, and doing an open mic night at the local coffee shop are all things that you might not experience if you go to a school close to home.
  • Moving out of state for college can better prepare you for the challenges of the “real world.” Going to college away from home is the perfect opportunity to experience a little of “grown-up life” before it actually comes. It can also help you think about what you want after you graduate. Where do you want to work? Where do you want to live? Are you okay with not seeing your family that often? How are you going to pay off student debt? Living close to your family can have a big impact on all those answers.
  • Finally, considering out-of-state colleges can improve your chances of finding your “perfect match.” Schools in your state may not meet your expectations for desired size, intended major or minor, and even the feel of the campus. Expanding your horizons to outside your home state can allow you to find a college in an unsuspected part of the country that meets all the criteria on your college search rubric (whether it’s private or public!).

So, CollegeXpressers: are you hoping to go out of state or stay in state for college? Why or why not? Leave a comment and let us know.

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About Sydney Missigman

Sydney Missigman

Sydney is a current high school junior living in Arizona. She has never met an extracurricular activity she didn’t like. She is a member of National Honor Society and is involved in her school newspaper, Key Club, tutoring club, and student ambassador program, having leadership roles in many of these. She is in her third year of Spanish classes and is a TA for her Spanish teacher. Sydney loves using the power of the written word to connect with people throughout the world. Her family, studies, and service work are just a few of her many passions.


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Sierra Carranza

Sierra Carranza

High School Class of 2022

I had absolutely no idea where I wanted to go to school; I was considering colleges in almost every state. CollegeXpress was an amazing resource and helped me compare all of my top schools. Without the help of CollegeXpress, I probably wouldn't have made such an informed and confident decision.



High School Class of 2019

My favorite feature of CollegeXpress is the scholarship search. As someone going out of state for college, I needed all the financial help I could get, and CollegeXpress helped me easily find scholarships I could apply for to help fund my education.

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$2,000 Community Service Scholarship Winner, 2014

I am very honored to be this year’s recipient of the Multicultural Student Community Service Scholarship! This scholarship is vital to helping me achieve and fulfill my dreams, and gives me confidence and motivation as I begin my college career. The CollegeXpress website has been invaluable over the past year as I planned my educational and professional goals. I highly recommend it to all students as they begin to focus on their college and career interests. The website is a wonderful guide to schools and scholarships.

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Slosberg College Solutions LLC

My favorite part of CollegeXpress is the 800+ lists which have all kinds of hard-to-find information. These lists are helpful when I’m creating college lists, and I also use them to give students a feel for a particular college or university.

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I have spent a lot of time aggressively searching for scholarships. It was a long and frustrating process until I found the CollegeXpress network. This site made my search so much easier. With the simple check of a few boxes, the site sorted out scholarships I was eligible for and led me directly to the correct websites. Winning this scholarship has definitely given me and my family some financial relief, and CollegeXpress has allowed me to improve my chances of winning further financial aid. Thank you so much!

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