30 Affordable Best Public Universities for In-State and Out-of-State Students

The cost of attending a college has literally skyrocketed in the last few decades. However, despite the rising cost, a college degree is still worth it. On average, those with a bachelor’s degree earn significantly more than their peers with only a high school diploma. But, yes, you should focus more on the ROI rather than just ranking and reputation. In this article, we will talk about such best public universities with high ROI for in-state students. Additionally, we will also discuss how out-of-state students can qualify for in-state tuition fees.

Saving on College Tuition and Maximizing ROI by Attending Best Public Universities

In the past, we have shared several tips on how to save on tuition fees by ensuring scholarships and financial aid. Financial aid is a great way to save a significant amount of money.

For example, the annual tuition fee at Harvard is around USD $54,000. However, the average tuition after receiving the financial aid package is around USD $15,000 per year. But, Harvard is a private university with fierce competition. As we all know, the US college admission process is pretty subjective and complex. If you are interested, here is an article on how to get into Harvard, Stanford, MIT, and other elite universities.

One of the wise (and maybe simple) ways to get a college degree without costing a fortune is to attend a public university within the same state. In this post, we will look at the best affordable public universities for in-state students.

In-State vs Out-of-State Tuition

Why Difference between In-State and Out-of-State Tuition Fees?

In the US, federal tax has to be paid by all irrespective of where you stay. Most of the states except a few also collect a state tax, part of which is used to fund public colleges and universities (also known as public schools). Since the state taxpayer’s money is involved in the funding of these institutions, residents of the state are offered subsidized tuition in the form of in-state tuition fees.

Why Should You Attend a Public School as an In-State Student?

Public colleges and universities receive funding from state taxpayers. This funding allows public colleges to offer lower tuition rates than private institutions. It also means that lower rates only apply to students who are state residents, resulting in a steep difference between in-state vs. out-of-state tuition.

On average, out-of-state tuition at four-year public colleges is close to three times that of in-state tuition ($9,349 vs $27,023).

For instance, in-state students at Michigan State University paid an average of $14,914 in tuition and fees during the 2021-22 academic year. Their out-of-state counterparts, meanwhile, paid $40,726, or more than double what residents paid.

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Is there some way Out-of-State students can qualify for In-State tuition?

In-state tuition can save you around $10,000-$20,000 per year. So, if possible, you should definitely try this. You can either fulfill the residency requirement or participate in a tuition exchange program.

Residency Requirement

If you’re dependent on your parents, at least one of your parents needs to be a resident of that state for an entire year by the beginning of the class for the semester.

Different states may have different requirements with respect to minimum residency duration and the minimum age at which you’ll be considered independent.

You should also start arranging the following documents:

  • Voter registration card
  • Vehicle registration in the state
  • Driver’s license issued by the state
  • Documentation related to payment of State income tax

Tuition Exchange

You may also be able to participate in a tuition exchange to get in-state tuition in a university in another state. Many states have a tuition exchange program that allows students to save a lot on fees by not having to pay out-of-state tuition.

Tuition Exchange is a reciprocal scholarship program. This program caters to the families or dependents of faculty and staff of over 600 participating institutions.

Strong Academics to Avail of Scholarships that Award In-State Tuition

Most public institutions offer scholarships to attract high-caliber non-resident students. These scholarships can be in the form of non-resident tuition waivers, non-resident academic scholarships, non-resident tuition scholarships, and merit-based tuition waivers.

Depending on test scores (like SAT or ACT), few universities do offer financial aid by waiving the difference between the out-of-state and in-state tuition fees.

Ideally, students who score 33 or higher on the ACT or 1490 or higher on the SAT, and hold at least a 3.5 GPA can qualify for these kinds of merit scholarships and/or tuition fee waivers.

20 Cheapest Best Public Universities for In-State Students

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10 Best Public Universities for Out-of-State Students

  • The University of Texas at Austin
  • University of North Texas
  • Texas A&M University
  • University of Houston
  • Kennesaw State University
  • Georgia State University
  • University of Georgia
  • Florida State University
  • University of Central Florida
  • Florida Atlantic University

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Featured Image Source: US News

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

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