In-State or Out-of-State? – GradPlan

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In-State or Out-of-State?

What to consider when deciding to explore locally or out of state.

Over 90% of college students in the United States attend an in-state school. But it’s not for everyone. Learn more about you options and some tools to help you decide if you’ll go “in-state” or “out-of state.”

So, what’s the difference?

  • In-State Schools are schools located in the same state that you graduated high school from
  • Out-of-State Schools are schools located outside of the state you graduated high school from

Why do so many students stay in-state?

Over 90% of college students in the US stay in their home-state for tuition. But why?
There are varying reasons, but for most students it comes down to cost.  Here’s how –

  • Most public institutions have lower tuition rates for in-state students.
  • Some states even give out additional grants to students who stay in-state for school.
  • Housing costs may be lower if students choose to stay at home or with a relative while in school.
  • Travel to and from campus (especially during breaks) may be less expensive.

Which is the best option for you?

Only you can make that decision. But here are some questions to ask yourself when you make that list of pros and cons:
With financial aid, can I afford out-of-state options?
What are the extra costs I have to pay if I go farther away?

Consider the cost of:

  • The Out-Of-State Tuition Rate (most common at public schools)
  • Housing (in dorms or apartment)
  • Transportation (coming home during breaks, or holidays)
How far from home am I comfortable going?


  • How will I get to campus initially?
  • Will I be able to come home during holidays and breaks?
  • How will I get home during the summer?
Do I have friends, family, or other support available where I am looking?

Having connections to people you know in the area can help with adjusting to being away from home.

What is the culture like where I am going?

Beyond the campus itself, you will be engaging with people in a different part of the country. Their customs, ways of being, and communicating may be different than you are used to. Are you comfortable with how they do things where you are going?

How will I get around on-and-off campus?


  • What transportation support is available from this school? (shuttle, public transportation etc.)
  • Are cars allowed for all students?
    Are there fees associated with having a car such as parking, or a campus sticker?

Tip! When considering going out-of-state, remember to have plans for the school breaks. Some schools shut down dorms during Thanksgiving and Winter Breaks and require students to move out during those times. 


To calculate the differences in cost for yourself, use to find the costs of schools you’re considering and then check out this worksheet to plug in the numbers.

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Things to Consider

"Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today."

Malcolm X, human rights activist