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College Shopping Tips: When Out-of-State is Cheaper than In-State Tuition

The financial downturn has high school seniors and their parents running scared.  How can we reduce costs?  How can we get the best deal?


The conventional wisdom says that an in-state college is the cheapest option.  As with most conventional wisdom, this assumption is wrong.


Let’s compare costs for a Colorado student considering majoring in business at three state universities in the region.



A few notes explain where these numbers come from:

  1. CU-Boulder tuition is $10,852, but Colorado students automatically are eligible for the Colorado Opportunity Fund, which effectively reduces tuition by $2760.
  2. Colorado students with an ACT of 28 or higher attending Montana State are eligible for a tuition discount under the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE–pronounced “woo-ee”).  Students with even higher ACT scores are eligible for other scholarships that reduce the overall price even further.
  3. Colorado students attending the University of Wyoming also are eligible for the WUE discount.


Sometimes what you major it makes a difference, too.  Business is the most expensive major at CU Boulder.  If you major in Arts & Sciences,  tuition is less:  $7,278 per year.  Engineering, however,  is $9,568.


So parents, don’t cut off your nose to spite your face!  If your student is interested in going out of state to college, do your homework before you assume that staying in state is the cheapest option.  Here we have compared only state schools, but even some private colleges will end up costing you less than the University of Colorado at Boulder.


As with most everything in life, it pays to comparison shop!


Mark Montgomery

College Counselor





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