As a parent, paying for college may be one of the largest financial investments you'll ever make, particularly if your child wants to go to a school outside of your state. One report found that the average out-of-state tuition and fees at public four-year institutions was $26,820 for the 2019-20 academic year (it was $10,440 for in-state tuition).
While having your child attend an in-state school can yield savings, going to college outside of your state may be necessary to allow them to pursue a certain degree program, or it may be their personal preference. If you're focused on keeping higher education expenses in check and don't have access to scholarships, looking for schools with the cheapest out-of-state tuition is a must.
Out-of-state tuition applies to students who aren't considered state residents. Because public universities are funded in part with tax dollars from residents of that state, they effectively get a discount in the form of in-state tuition.
9 Colleges With Cheapest Out-Of-State Tuition
Here are the nine colleges that offer the best value to out-of-state students and parents alike (all figures are from the 2019-20 academic year).
1. Chadron State College
Chadron State College is located in Chadron, Nebr., and it offers a cozy setting for students. For parents, it also comes with a low price tag. A 15-credit on-campus semester at the school for non-resident students costs just $3,716.05, making it the most cost-friendly choice on the list for out-of-state undergrads.
2. Alabama A&M University
Alabama A&M University is also a great choice for students who have their eye on a STEM degree, and it's excellent for parents who are looking for the cheapest out-of-state tuition. Tuition for an out-of-state student taking 15 credit hours is $13,078 with boarding ($9,317 for those able to commute). Additionally, qualifying students can take advantage of a waiver, allowing them to pay resident tuition of just $8,773 ($5,012 if commuting).
3. Minot State University
Minot State University is a smaller school, but some students may appreciate its intimate feel. Also, there is no out-of-state tuition rate—all students pay the same, which is just $7,592 ($14,514 when you include meals and boarding). As the third-largest university in North Dakota, degree offerings are varied and include accounting, broadcasting, environmental geology, personal finance, and theater arts.
4. Alcorn State University
Mississippi is home to Alcorn State University and similar to some of its southern cohorts included on the list, it's a steal for parents and students looking for the cheapest out-of-state tuition. The university also does not charge differently for in-state or out-of-state students, with a 12-hour semester priced at $7,776 (including boarding) for all students. In addition to a wide range of undergraduate offerings, this historically Black college is the first in the nation to offer a master's degree in NCAA Compliance.
5. University of Florida
The University of Florida is a larger school and at first glance, out-of-state tuition prices don't look cheap, with the average tuition rate at $28,658. But thanks to financial aid, which more than 70% of students receive, that price can drop considerably. Because this school has higher enrollment numbers, however, students and parents will want to fill out the FAFSA as early as possible to qualify for aid.
6. Grand Canyon University
If your student is interested in a desert view, Grand Canyon University might be just what they're looking for. The university is unique in that rather than charging in-state and out-of-state tuition rates, all students pay the same price. Out-of-state undergrads pay $8,250 per semester to earn a degree here (the same as in-state). Degree offerings run the gamut from business and engineering to performing arts and theology.
7. Mayville State University
The tuition price for this North Dakota university depends heavily on which state you come from, from a low of $7,744.84 annually for Minnesota to $9,946.42 for the majority of states. One nice perk students enjoy here: every student is issued a tablet upon enrolling at the university. With smaller class sizes, this school is a great choice for students who want to get to know their classmates and their professors.
8. Michigan Technological University
Michigan Technological University is another school that has a stellar reputation as being a research institution and students come here from all over the world to study different fields of engineering, chemistry, computer science, and geology. The price for one semester is $17,448 for non-residents. However, out-of-state students may be able to get the in-state rate if they are a veteran, have a parent or spouse in active duty in the military, or have a parent or grandparent who attended the school—which would bring the price down to just $7,830, making it appealing to budget-conscious parents.
9. Texas A&M University-Texarkana
The Texarkana campus of Texas A&M University is a great buy for parents. For a 15-hour semester, the tuition and fees come out to $11,373 for out-of-state students. A number of the school's courses are offered online, with focuses on business, engineering, technology, sciences, education, and liberal arts. Students can attend classes on campus or take advantage of the school's extensive online course offerings.
Remember to Look Beyond Tuition Costs
One thing to keep in mind when looking for the cheapest out-of-state tuition is that tuition is only one part of the picture. Parents and students also need to factor in how fees, room and board, and textbook costs may affect the total cost of attendance when choosing a school.