10 Costs to Consider Before You Commit to an Out-of-State College

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Many students dream about going to college out-of-state. It’s the opportunity to go somewhere new where no one knows you and start again from the beginning. Some people choose to go away for better educational opportunities. Some people choose to go away because of the job market in the surrounding cities of the desired college. Others choose to go away because they always dreamed of studying in a certain city.
Whatever your reason is, keep reading for 10 costs to consider before committing to an out-of-state college.
1. Out-of-state tuition
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This is probably the most obvious expense. Schools often charge thousands of dollars more for out-of-state tuition, and, in some cases, this difference can be as high as almost 20 thousand dollars. The rules about who qualifies for in-state tuition varies by state, but this difference is important to keep in mind when choosing a school. Some things you might want to consider is whether the education received at this out-of-state college is worth the price difference, and the career placement rate of the school.
2. Financial aid
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Also, consider your financial aid options. Not all schools have the same amount of funds for financial aid for in-state and out-of-state students. “Having out-of-state residency status does not hinder the chances of getting aid,” said Daad Adel Rizk, director of the Sokolov-Miller Family Financial and Life Skills Center at Penn State. But that is not the case for many schools, such as the University of California System, which usually doesn’t give enough aid to cover the out-of-state tuition fully. And the State University of New York, for example, has a tuition assistance program specifically for New York State residents.
Your status as an out-of-state student might also hinder your chances of being eligible for federal loans. Private loans could have higher or lower interest rates and many require that you start paying while still in school. Keep this cost in mind while making the decision to go to an out-of-state college. Always check your financial aid options before committing to a school.
3. Housing
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Some students choose to stay in-state for the possibility to save money and stay with their parents. Unless your parents move to the new state with you, you won’t have that option. Some costs you might want to consider are room and board for those planning to live on-campus, and the price for light, gas, water, internet and groceries for those looking to live off-campus. Where will you live?
4. Transportation
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Depending on the distance between your home state and the state you are going to for college, you have to consider the costs you’re going to have buying bus or plane tickets or the money you’re going to spend on gas. “I didn’t expect the cost of traveling back and forth,” said Madison Disidori, a junior at Penn State from New Jersey. “I do not have a car up here so I either have to hope a family member will drive up and back, or I need to get bus and train tickets.” If you live too far to drive, you might also have to consider airfare price variation.
Transportation inside the state is also a cost to keep in mind. “If you don’t have a car or an established metro/subway system in a small town, you’re probably going to get many Ubers,” said Ana Sophia Collavatti, a sophomore at Penn State from Minnesota. Check if your desired school has free buses available for students, for example, before committing.
5. Holidays
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It’s time to consider what you’re going to do during holidays and extended weekends. Are you going to spend money going home or are you staying at the university? Are you going on a trip somewhere else? Some schools, for example, have limited housing options for holidays like Thanksgiving or the spring break week. In this case, are you staying in a hotel? You might want to check what hotels and Airbnbs are available around your college and how much a plane ticket home costs. Balance the costs of staying in your new state or going home and see what is best for you monetarily and if you have the funds to support yourself during those days you won’t be in class.
6. Shipping
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Shipping can be extremely expensive, depending on the state you’re going to. If you’re from California going to college in New York, for example, it’s trickier to bring all of your things to college. In cases like this, it’s hard to drive everything and the money spent on shipping might not be worth it as you’re going to spend less money buying everything new. Many out-of-state students only bring clothing items from home and buy things like comforters, showering items and others in their new state, as it was more beneficial to buy those large and heavy items than shipping them.
You might also want to consider the cost of storage. The same way you won’t be able to go back home for every single holiday, you also won’t be able to ship your things back every summer. Before committing to an out-of-state college, look up the price of storage units around your school.
7. Health insurance
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Many schools require students to have health insurance. Many times, your health insurance might not be valid outside of your state, and you might face unexpected costs. “I did not expect to pay for medical care because apparently, my insurance wasn’t enough, and when my sister and I got sick we spent a lot of money buying pharmacy medicine,” said Adriana Ramos, a sophomore at Penn State from Puerto Rico. When going to college out-of-state, it’s a good idea to check with your health care provider to see if your current health insurance is going to help you in your new state.
8. Cost of living in the area you’re going
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The cost of living in your home city might be more or less expensive than the cost of living in your college town. 20 dollars in State College, Pennsylvania will probably last longer than 20 dollars in New York City, for example. Those additional costs might not seem like much, but they could add up to hundreds of dollars a semester if you’re not careful. “They accumulate easily if you try to live the life you’re used to. If you want to decorate your dorm to feel comfortable in that space, that’s an expense. If you like a particular food brand, and they don’t have it in the dining hall or market, it’s a trip to Target,” Collavitti said. To avoid overspending, create a budget for non-essential expenses and make sure to stick to it. Try to find local products that can substitute your out-of-state ones, as they are usually less expensive.
9. Tuition discounts
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There are tuition agreements between states to provide lower tuition for out-of-state students. When choosing an out-of-state college, you might want to check if the school you’re looking at is located in a state that has some sort of agreement with your home state and if you qualify for this tuition discount. This would give you an opportunity to study in an out-of-state college without having to pay all the out-of-state tuition. Some programs like the Midwest Student Exchange and the Western Undergraduate Exchange provide tuition discounts to students’ members of participating states. The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators has a comprehensive list of those tuition discount programs.
10. Summer internships
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With landing an internship, consider if it’s worth staying in the city and paying for housing to do it? Would you benefit from just going home? If you have someone backing you up financially, staying outside of your state during the summer for an internship can give you a better outlook of the job market, you can get experience, not to mention the adventure of staying away from home for one more term. If you don’t have the money to support yourself during the summer, it can be harder to stay and have more expenses related to housing and transportation. Staying in-state can be helpful when looking for those internship opportunities that you know you will be able to sustain yourself.

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