4/20/10

Out-of-State vs. In-State | The Right Fit, 11

(image via: here.)

Yes, it is important to consider your wants. Maybe you want to move far away, maybe you want to stay close to home. Maybe you live somewhere cold, but want to move somewhere warm and sunny. Maybe you wanna try something new, maybe you wanna ease into college. All these are part of the decision of whether to go to college in state or go out of state. And while your wants are important, you need to weigh in on the big picture, too.

So while taking your wants into account, also remember these big factors when choosing between in-state and out-of-state.

Tuition
Keep in mind that going to school in-state will likely save you money. At public institutions, tuition and fees cost thousands less for in-state residents than for students coming from out-of-state. Sometimes, public institutions make provisions for scholarships for out-of-state students. And sometimes, public institutions have a program that allow an out-of-state resident to pay in-state tuition if they are from a neighboring state. Basically, you just need to ask the college that you're interested in. Ask about scholarships, grants, and any neighbor-state deals. As for private institutions, tuition is generally the same whether you're coming from out-of-state or not.

Travel
Also keep in mind the travel expenses of going out-of-state. Depending on how far you plan on going, you should factor in gas, train rides, or airfare for the visits you want to make back home. It's all relative though. If you live close to a state border, you may actually end up going to a school closer to home by going out-of-state.

Distance
If your goal is to get away and be somewhere completely new, then you're probably planning on going several states away. But if you want to get maybe six hours away, consider all of your options before restricting yourself to out-of-state colleges. There may be colleges in your own state that are five or six hours away. You'll feel far from home, but be close enough if you wanna go home. And you'll reap the benefits of-in-state tuition if it is a public school.

Transferring
While course credits are becoming more widespread, remember that different states may treat courses differently. If you end up transferring, courses may not transfer as smoothly as you expect. So if you go out-of-state, you'll be wise to focus on general education first. Just in case you decide to transfer, most of your classes will count at another college despite state borders.

Future Plans
If you have your heart set on attending an out-of-state school and you plan on living there after you graduate, too... really put your all into it. Check out the residency requirements for the state you plan on going to school in. If you live in a state for a certain amount of years, you may become eligible for state residency. That would get you in-state tuition vs. out-of-state (if you're at a public school). It may be worth considering taking up year-round residence (include summer) in the state of your education so that you can catch a break on tuition for a couple years.

Indecision
If you want to go out-of-state, it will generally cost more. You'll probably be moving farther away. Tuition and fees might cost more. Transportation and living expenses may add up to be more. It is a big financial commitment. So only go out-of-state if you are absolutely sure and absolutely ready. If you're uncertain, you're safe bet is to go to an in-state school first to avoid a big waste of time and money. There's no sense in making brash decisions. Weigh your options and try to make a choice you can stick with for the long run.

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