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What to consider when choosing between in-state, out-of-state colleges

Young woman, and on chin, looking up to left, question marks on chalkboard, wondering.

July 12, 2022

Getting away from home – it’s an exciting part of going to college for the first time.

It may be the first time that you, as a student, have the opportunity to exercise your independence – to show that you are capable of taking of yourself or managing your own life.

But how far do you go? To an in-state or out-of-state college?

Here’s some things to consider when deciding whether to attend an in-state or out-of-state institution:

  • Compare the academic programs. Do both schools provide the program of study you are interested in pursuing? What has been the success rate of graduates from each college’s program?
  • Visit both campuses. Can you imagine yourself spending the next four years or so on the campus? What is the weather like year round? What size of a campus is a good fit for you? Are there amenities (like restaurants, theatres, sports) on campus or nearby? Make a list of what attributes you are looking for and see which college offers the most.
  • Review the financial aid offers from each college. The cost of going to college is an important factor for many students. Out-of-state tuition will no doubt be higher than at an in-state college. However, the out-of-state college could offer enough financial aid to make up the difference. After receiving the financial aid offer, determine your final out-of-pocket cost to decide which college is the most affordable.

Here are things that should not be a factor in your decision:

  • Your desire to get away from home. You may decide later that you miss home. You’ll be hours away and it won’t be easy to go home. If you do have a strong desire to get away from home, consider spending a summer away before committing to a far-away college.
  • Your friends and where they go to college. Some students have chosen a college because a high school friend is going there. In reality, your high school friend could later transfer to another college or sometimes, unfortunately, friendships end. Decide on a college based on what is best for you – not for someone else.

Remember, some neighboring states offer reciprocity programs where you can attend an out-of-state institution and your tuition and fees would be the same as if you were an in-state student. Check with the college to determine if that is available to you.

The bottom line in choosing in any college, whether in-state or out-of-state, is choose one that offers the program you want to pursue at a cost you can afford and where you want to be.

And that’s the best decision you can make.

 Events for Counselors

Gettysburg High School Financial Aid Night

Tuesday, September 6 at 5:30 PM CST
Online Meeting
Host: Cathy Mueller

More Info


Huron High School Financial Aid Night

Wednesday, September 7 at 6:00 PM CST
Online Meeting
Host: Cathy Mueller

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T.F. Riggs High School Financial Aid Night

Monday, September 12 at 7:00 PM CST
Online Meeting
Host: Cathy Mueller

More Info