Get In-State Tuition as an Out-of-State Student

Looking for public colleges that offer in-state tuition to out-of-state students? They exist! You can get deep tuition discounts, depending on where you live and which school you plan to attend.

You just need to know what to look for. They are called reciprocity programs or state tuition exchanges.

Public colleges may sound cheaper than private colleges. However, state colleges can get costly once you factor in travel expenses and the higher tuition these schools charge out-of-state students. Plus, public colleges don’t tend to offer the same kind of institutional aid or scholarships that many private colleges offer.

That is why it is important to see if your state participates in a regional tuition exchange program.


What is a State Tuition Exchange?

Many states participate in one of four regional tuition exchange programs that allow residents to attend college in another state in the same exchange—without having to pay out-of-state tuition.

Unfortunately, some states don’t participate in any tuition exchange. These include Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. If you live in any of these states, you won’t qualify for tuition reciprocity, but your state may offer other types of financial aid.

Check our interactive map to determine which exchange, if any, your state belongs to. Click on your state to learn about additional college aid options including grants, scholarships, and low-cost loans.

Read the fine print and ask questions! Schools don’t advertise their participation in tuition exchange programs, and each has its own rules and deadlines to qualify. You’ll need to do some research, but your efforts may save you thousands of dollars in tuition.


Geographic Areas

Each of the four exchanges cover a different region, including the West, Midwest, South, and New England. Here is a short description of each exchange. If you are interested in a certain exchange, be sure to read through their website to figure out what the exchange offers and what you need to do to qualify for lower-cost college.


Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE)

This exchange is run by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE), and includes roughly 160 undergraduate schools across the following 15 states:

Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming

Residents of these states as well as American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau may also participate in this exchange.

WICHE also offers the Western Regional Graduate Program (WRGP), covering graduate schools, and the Professional Student Exchange Program (PSEP) for professional health studies.

Read the FAQs for each of the three programs. If you still have questions, ask WICHE directly via their online form.


Midwest Student Exchange Program (MSEP)

Run by the Midwestern Higher Education Compact, this program includes state universities as well as some private institutions in the following states:

Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, Wisconsin

Public colleges and universities in MSEP charge eligible out-of-state students no more than 150 percent of the in-state tuition (out-of-state tuition can run 300 percent or more of in-state tuition). Private schools offer eligible students a 10 percent tuition discount.

Use this search tool to find participating schools.

Still got questions? Contact your MSEP state representative.


Academic Common Market (ACM)

Run by the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), this program offers students the opportunity to “study in a specialized field at an out-of-state college and pay in-state tuition.”

The 15 participating states include:

Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina,Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia

Not all students will be eligible for the tuition break. This reciprocity program is geared to students pursuing a degree that’s not offered by a public institution in their home-state. If an out-of-state school within the ACM offers a degree you want to pursue that isn’t available at a public institution in your home state, then you may qualify for the tuition break.

To determine which tuition reciprocity options are available and where, search among the more than 2,200 ACM undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

And, keep the following points in mind:

Not all schools participate in the tuition exchange. Read SREB’s State and Institutional Notes, which explain the additional conditions and eligibility guidelines, all organized by state. For example, West Virginia University, University of Texas at Austin, and nearly half of the four-year institutions in Virginia don’t participate in the tuition exchange. Two of the states — Florida and Texas — only offer tuition reciprocity at the graduate school level.

Your degree matters. Ask yourself: Is the degree you’re pursuing offered in your home state? Does an out-of-state school within the ACM offer that degree? Are there any state-specific guidelines?

Reach out to your home-state coordinator to ask questions. Once you’re accepted into a participating school, you’ll need to contact your state coordinator to enroll in the tuition exchange.


New England Tuition Break

The Tuition Break is run by the New England Board of Higher Education. It covers both two- and four-year programs. Participating states include:

Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont

Options vary by state and there are hyper-specific guidelines. For example, if you want to study bioengineering at New Hampshire University, you must reside in Connecticut, Maine, or Vermont to qualify for tuition reciprocity. Students from Rhode Island or Massachusetts don’t qualify.

To make sense of it all, read Tuition Break Eligibility and FAQs, and search for participating schools by state.


It’s Important to Act Fast

Most schools participating in a tuition reciprocity program offer discounts to a set number of eligible students. These spots can fill up quickly, so once you’re accepted to a program that offers tuition reciprocity, act fast! Reach out to your state contact as well as the school you plan to attend to secure your tuition discount.