Tuition Reciprocity Programs: Out-of-State, Within a Budget

Attending a public college or university in your home state can be advantageous for your college budget, but it may limit your options. One solution to this predicament is tuition reciprocity agreements.

Tuition ReciprocityAttending a public college or university in your home state can be advantageous for your college budget, but it may limit your options if you live in a small state or a state without an expansive public university system. One solution to this predicament is tuition reciprocity agreements, which are put in place to provide students with a variety of college options at a more affordable price.

Tuition reciprocity programs between regions of the country and individual states makes attending certain out-of-state public institutions more affordable. There are three general types of reciprocity programs that exist to aid student’s financial burden while allowing them to explore schools outside their state. Regional programs exist within certain parts of the country and often involve multiple surrounding states. State programs usually involve a smaller number of states and sometimes exist between just two neighboring states offering reduced tuition or in-state tuition to their out-of-state neighbors. The third agreement is between counties and often involves counties that are geographically close to a bordering state college or university. The following are some examples of programs and states utilizing these agreements:

  • The Midwest Student Exchange Program (MSEP) is a tuition reduction regional program involving Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Wisconsin. The agreement allows for residents of the participating states to attend public institutions in said states for no more than 150% of the in-state resident tuition rate. Students must enroll as a non-resident student and apply to a participating MSEP campus to take advantage of the savings.
  • The Western Undergraduate Exchange is another regional program which incorporates Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. This agreement allows students in the participating states to apply to cooperating two- and four-year institutions at a reduced tuition rate of 150% of the resident tuition rate. Interested students must apply for this program, and not all eligible students are awarded the discount, so be sure to do your research before applying.
  • Individual states may also have tuition reciprocity agreements with neighboring states. For instance, the University of Minnesota system has agreements with Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, and the province of Manitoba, Canada. Eligible students will receive a lower tuition rate than the non-resident rate, and oftentimes it is comparable to the in-state tuition rate. There are certain exceptions to the reciprocity agreement that disqualify some students such as certain programs of study or studying abroad. There are other states that participate in programs similar to this, so it is wise to do research on schools you’re interested in to see if any reciprocity agreements are in place.
  • Agreements with surrounding counties can exist through a particular school. For example, the University of Louisville in Kentucky has an agreement with a number of counties in Indiana that are close to the Kentucky border. Under this agreement, eligible residents in Indiana pay in-state tuition while attending the University.

It’s important to note that not all public colleges and universities in a participating state take part in these tuition reciprocity agreements. One way to start researching is to get in touch with the admission departments at public institutions in your home state and ask if any of these agreements exist with surrounding states. These agreements provide a major advantage to students who want a chance to leave their state for college but not be buried in debt after graduation. You may have more affordable college options than you think, so be sure to exhaust all your financial options when deciding where to apply and eventually attend.

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About Kristen Healy

Kristen Healy

Kristen is an Assistant Editor at Wintergreen Orchard House, a sub-division of Carnegie Communications, where she manages data for Midwestern colleges and universities. She graduated in 2010 from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a double major in Journalism and Communication and a minor in Political Science. She is psyched about blogging about Public Colleges and Universities seeing as she is a proud product of one. She hopes that her four years at the Massachusetts state flagship campus will help her to bring new light to a broad range of topics that can relate to attending a public college or university. Her college career was spent writing for the news section of UMass’s Daily Collegian, volunteering at the university television studio, and enjoying the sites and activities of downtown Amherst. Kristen loves to travel and spent part of her junior year studying abroad in Galway, Ireland, where she gained perspective of what it is like to attend a large university in another country. She hopes her experiences in public higher education will help guide readers through their own college journeys!

You can circle Kristen on Google+, follow her on Twitter, or subscribe to her CollegeXpress blog.


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