In state or out of state


When deciding where to attend college, students and their families have a lot of factors to consider, and location is a big one. Consider the pros and cons for your family when making this decision. 

Staying in state

One pro is that your student is likely familiar with the school and surrounding area and might already have a positive attachment to the school, culture and spirit. Students might also be more comfortable being close to family and friends as they navigate their new environment and expectations of going to college. Tuition will likely be lower when compared to non resident tuition and costs, but even in-state students should consider all potential costs comprehensively.

However, a con could be that students can miss out on what might be a better education experience for them in terms of exposure to new lifestyles, cultures, etc. if they don’t look beyond the close option.

Can a student looking for independence still get that experience by staying in state?

Absolutely. Many in-state students become immersed in their new community and challenge themselves to determine who they’ve grown to be and who they are apart from their family. It all comes down to students taking advantage of the opportunities available to them, and really being mindful of their education experience and trying new things.

Going to an out-of-state school

Attending an out-of-state university gives students the opportunity to meet people from a new environment and culture. Depending on the area of interest, certain out-of-state schools might have specific degree program opportunities or connections to certain industries that a student couldn’t get by staying at home. 

Of course, one of the cons of going out of state is that it is most likely a more expensive option for the family. 

Why does out-of-state tuition cost more?

In most cases, resident tuition is subsidized by some level of state government funding, meaning the state helps cover some of the tuition costs for in-state students. States do this to ensure that its residents gain access to the education they need to be productive citizens of the state. Nonresident tuition is not subsidized by state funding, so to make up the difference, tuition for out-of-state students is usually more expensive. 

What costs should families consider when going out of state?

Many people forget to factor in travel costs, both for the initial move and any visits home. It’s also important to consider not just tuition, fees and housing, but any costs that could change when a student moves out of state, such as insurance.

Do colleges have a limit on how many out-of-state students they will accept?

It varies by state. In many cases, public schools are built to serve the citizens of that state, so ensuring enrollments of qualified residents will be the priority. 


Contributor Matt Lopez, executive director of Admission Services at Arizona State University