The search for affordable out-of-state colleges

by Grace

It’s been a few years since I wrote about low-cost out-of-state schools, so it’s a good time to revisit this topic.

What type of students are typically interested in affordable out-of-state public schools?

  • Residents of states that lack good options for affordable public colleges.
  • Students who want to experience living in another part of the country during their college years.

Lynn O’Shaughnessy recommends avoiding most “name brand” * state flagships, which usually expect out-of-state students to pay full price.  Instead, look at other less well-known options.

The New York state universities (SUNY’s) , for instance, represent some excellent values. Unlike many states, New York state has continued to support its public universities at levels other state legislatures have long abandoned.

Another potential great buy is the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, which is a bargain compared to Michigan. I once asked a teenager why he thought that the University of Michigan is so much more popular than the U. of Minnesota, which is located in the Twin Cities. “Minnesota is cold,” he replied. I mentioned that Michigan is hardly a temperate climate. My theory is that Michigan has enjoyed a long and storied tradition of success in the Big 10 athletic conference and the Minnesota Gophers have not.

The University of New Mexico has impressive scholarships even for students with a 3.0 GPA and it’s located in a city (Albuquerque.) I am hoping that a daughter of a family friend, who is a gifted dancer, ends up at the University of Utah’s modern dance program, which is considered as good, if not better, than Julliard’s.The scholarships for nonresidents can be more generous and prices much lower to begin with at schools that have to work harder to attract nonresidents. University of Arkansas, for instance, has tons of scholarships for nonresidents. A huge plus at Arkansas is the tremendous amount of internships for students because of Walmart’s proximity. Walmart requires major corporations to maintain an office in Arkansas so there are hundreds of corporate outposts in the state.

Kiplinger’s most recent Rankings of Top Public College Values shows 54 schools with total annual costs under $35,000.  A California resident facing annual costs ranging from about $23,000 to $35,000 for in-state schools may look to an option like Arizona State University where OOS costs are about $36,000 per year.  Add in the challenges of admission and course availability that persist in some schools in the California system, and the idea of tacking on an extra $35,000 or so in costs over four years by going out of state may seem like a fair deal.

U.S. News offers a list of low-cost schools that may come out to be a better value than in-state choices.

Some regional colleges and universities are so cheap, even for out-of-staters, that they give Home State University a run for its money….

Most of these public institutions are regional colleges and universities in Midwestern or Western states​ that may not entice many 18-year-olds the way, say, New York or California do.

But a Pennsylvanian student eyeing the in-state price tags of Pennsylvania State University or the University of Pittsburgh, both topping $17,000 a year, might start to find them more appealing.

Careful research can uncover affordable options that are perfect for your child.  Here’s a College Confidential thread that can be a resource:

VERY LOW COST OOS COA universities……less than $25k COA for everything!

* UPDATED for clarity

———

Lynn O’Shaughnessy, “Would You Pay $47,000 for the University of Oregon?”, The College Solution, April 20, 2015.

Susannah Snider, “Public Colleges With the Cheapest Out-of-State Tuition and Fees”, U.S. News & World Report, September 30, 2014.

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4 Comments to “The search for affordable out-of-state colleges”

  1. The author says to avoid flagships, but then recommends U of Minnesota and U of Utah??? Last time I checked, those WERE state flagships, and very good ones indeed.

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  2. Oh, that was my mistake! She specified “name brand” flagships, and presumably she doesn’t think those schools fit that criteria.

    I’m going to correct the post.

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  3. In fairness, she cited U of Utah as an alternative to Julliard. For CA residents like her, and the kid she cited in her post, Utah also has the advantage of being part of WUE, and thus could be an option at less than the full out of state price.

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