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The Strategy of Applying to Out-of-State Colleges: Hits and Misses


Many students desire to move away from their home state to pursue a college education.  Generally, I feel this is a poor choice, financially speaking.

  • The educational experience at a flagship university outside your home state is not significantly different from the experience in your own state.  While there are some differences, generally speaking you’ll find the same majors, the same activities, and the same parties, whether you attend university close to home or far away.
  • Tuition prices for an out-of-state public university can be 2 to 4 times as expensive as those in your home state.
  • If you live on the plains but pine for the beach or the mountains, you can use the savings to pay for fantastic holidays at the resort of your choosing.  Or buy a car (or a whole fleet of cars!).
  • The assumption that you can move to a new state and establish residency after one year is generally wrong:  most states have closed this loophole, making a public education out of state relatively expensive.

However, as Steve Cohen suggests in his article in the Daily Beast, there is perhaps no better time to get accepted by out-of-state universities.  The issue is money:  state universities are cash poor in today’s economy, and they are plugging holes in their budgets by accepting more out-of-state kids than ever before.
So for those for whom money is no object, it’s a great time to apply to flagship universities outside your home state.  Having the resources to pay full out-of-state tuition has become a credential in the admissions process.
From a financial point of view, however, it may not be as smart.  It all depends on how much money you have to burn, and your priorities in how you spend it.  If you want to reduce the cost of a college education, think twice before you commit to an out-of-state university.
Mark Montgomery
Educational Consultant


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