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Generally, going to school in your home state will likely be much less expensive than attending an out-of-state school. One of the biggest factors that affects this cost is tuition — the cost of in-state tuition tends to be much lower than out-of-state tuition.
However, in some cases it’s possible to establish yourself as a resident to qualify for in-state tuition.
Here’s what you should know about getting in-state tuition:
- Basic in-state tuition requirements
- What kinds of documents establish intent to become a resident?
- How much can you save with in-state tuition?
- Other questions about in-state tuition and residency for college
Basic in-state tuition requirements
The requirements to get in-state tuition can vary between schools and states. However, there are a few common requirements that you’ll likely need to prove, including:
- Residency: You must maintain residency in the state for at least one year prior to classes starting.
- Intent: You must establish a domicile in the state, which means it’s your permanent legal home state where you plan to stay indefinitely.
- Financial independence: If you’re unmarried, under the age of 24, and your parents don’t live in the state, you’ll have to verify financial independence (such as through a full-time job). Dependent students will need to show that they receive financial support from a parent or guardian who has established a domicile in the state.
Some states also offer other pathways to in-state tuition for students who don’t meet these requirements. For example, in Virginia, you might qualify for in-state tuition if you:
- Attended two years of high school in the state
- Are a refugee living or have received a Special Immigrant Visa
- Are a veteran living in the state
In-state tuition reciprocity programs
Another potential way to get in-state tuition is to participate in a reciprocity program that lets out-of-state students attend school at a lower rate. Here are a couple of examples:
- The New England Board of Higher Education’s Tuition Break program provides tuition discounts to residents of New England who go to schools in other New England states. These states include Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
- The Southern Regional Education Board’s Regional Contract Program allows qualified residents of certain states to pay in-state or reduced tuition at out-of-state schools when pursuing degrees in certain professional healthcare fields. Participating states include Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina.
There are also other options to cover out-of-state costs if you can’t qualify for in-state tuition, including scholarships, grants, or student loans.
If you decide to take out a student loan to pay for college, be sure to consider how much that loan will cost you in the future. This way, you can be prepared for any added expenses. You can find out how much you’ll owe over the life of your federal or private student loans using our student loan calculator below.
Enter your loan information to calculate how much you could pay
With a $ loan, you will pay $ monthly and a total of $ in interest over the life of your loan. You will pay a total of $ over the life of the loan, assuming you're making full payments while in school.
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- Fed Loan Rates for ‘21-22 School Year: What You Should Know
- Federal vs. Private Student Loans: 5 Differences
What kinds of documents establish intent to become a resident?
To be considered a resident by your school, you’ll typically need to provide documentation that ties you to the state. Here are several documents that your school might ask for:
- Driver’s license
- Vehicle registration
- Military records
- Employment status
- Tax returns
- Voter registration
- Property ownership records
- Records showing sources of financial support
How much can you save with in-state tuition?
The average tuition for an in-state student at a public four-year school is $10,230. This cost goes up to $26,290 for an out-of-state school — almost $16,000 more than an in-state school.
One of the main reasons in-state tuition is less expensive is because funding for public universities comes from state taxes. Because state residents pay these taxes, they’re able to attend public schools at a lower cost. Out-of-state students, on the other hand, haven’t contributed to this funding, so their tuition is higher.
If you decide to take out a private student loan to help cover these costs, be sure to consider as many lenders as possible to find the right loan for you. Credible makes this easy — you can compare your prequalified rates from our partner lenders in the table below in two minutes.
|Lender||Fixed Rates From (APR)||Variable Rates From (APR)||Loan amounts||Loan terms (years)|
|4.53%+10||6.16%+10||$2,001* to $400,000||5, 7, 10, 12, 15, 20|
|4.99%+1||6.37%+||$1,000 to $350,000 (depending on degree)||5, 10, 15|
||5.59%+2,3||$1,000 up to 100% of the school-certified cost of attendance||5, 8, 10, 15, 20|
|4.43%+||5.39%+||$1,000 to $99,999 annually |
($180,000 aggregate limit)
|7, 10, 15|
|4.6%+8||7.64%+8||$1,001 up to 100% of school certified cost of attendance||5, 10, 15|
|5.35%+||N/A||$1,500 up to school’s certified cost of attendance less aid||10, 15|
|4.50%9 - 15.49%9||6.37%9 - 16.70%9||$1,000 up to 100% of school-certified cost of attendance||10 to 20|
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Learn More: Guide to Every Type of Student Loan Offered
Other questions about in-state tuition and residency for college
Here are the answers to several commonly asked questions regarding college residency:
Can I live in one state and claim residency in another?
In most cases, you can’t live in one state while claiming residency in another. However, there are two possible ways to qualify for in-state tuition while maintaining residency in another state:
- Participate in a reciprocity agreement that lets you pay in-state tuition at an out-of-state school
- Receive financial support from a parent who lives and works in the state where you want to go to school
Which state has the cheapest out-of-state tuition?
Wyoming offers the least expensive out-of-state tuition, according to the College Board. The average out-of-state tuition for a full-time student at a four-year college in Wyoming is only $5,790.
Florida has the second-lowest out-of-state tuition with an average tuition of $6,370 for a full-time student.
Can international students or undocumented students establish residency?
International students might be able to establish residency and qualify for in-state tuition if they meet the requirements.
For example, international students could get in-state tuition in Texas if they show proof of domicile in the state or if they provide certain waivers.
Undocumented students and DACA recipients might also be eligible for in-state tuition in 19 states. These include:
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- Rhode Island
Will FAFSA cover out-of-state tuition?
Yes, after you fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you can use whatever federal student loans and other federal financial aid you might qualify for to cover out-of-state tuition.
It’s also a good idea to apply for as many scholarships and grants as you might be eligible for as they don’t have to be repaid.
After you’ve exhausted scholarship, grant, and federal student loan options, private student loans could help fill any financial gaps left over.
Learn More: Taking Out Student Loans Without a Cosigner
Can I get in-state tuition if my parents live there?
This depends on how long your parents have lived in the state and whether you’re a dependent. If your parents have lived there for several years and you rely on them financially, you might qualify for in-state tuition. However, rules can vary by state, so be sure to check with your school.
If you decide to take out a private student loan to help cover your college costs, remember to consider as many lenders as you can to find the right loan for your needs. This is easy with Credible — you can compare your prequalified rates from multiple lenders in two minutes.