Paying tuition when you live outside the state or country in which the college is located is extra expensive. One of the best ways to keep tuition down is to leverage tuition reciprocity agreements. These are contracts between participating colleges and universities (usually in a regional area) to reduce out-of-state tuition costs for specific degree programs. Some colleges and universities participate in more than one tuition reciprocity agreement. By offering this, schools are able to eliminate duplication of academic programs among the participating schools.
If you, or a parent, are a faculty member at a participating university, you may be able to take advantage of the Tuition Exchange. This national reciprocity agreement is available to dependents of higher education faculty at more than 645 member schools, meaning you can attend anywhere in the U.S. for prices much lower than out-of-state students would typically pay.
National Student Exchange
The National Student Exchange includes nearly 200 institutions across the U.S., Canada, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Island. It allows students to attend their host institution by paying either the in-state tuition and fees of their host institution or the normal tuition and fees of their home campus, but only applies to public universities.
The Midwest Higher Education Compact
The Midwest Student Exchange Program is made up of colleges in Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Wisconsin. It allows students at public institutions to pay no more than 150% of the in-state tuition rate for specific programs. Private institutions offer a 10% reduction on their tuition rates.
The New England Board of Higher Education
The Regional Student Program (RSP) Tuition Break is made up of colleges in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. It allows students to pay a regional rate significantly lower than out-of-state tuition. The rate may be up to 175 percent of a college's in-state rate for specific programs. There are more than 800 such programs available.
The Southern Regional Education Board
Composed of 15 states – Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia – the Southern Regional Education Board offers three programs:
- The Academic Common Market allows students to pay the in-state tuition rate for specific programs. There are more than 1,900 such programs available.
- The Regional Contract Program (RCP) allows students to pursue a professional health degree and pay the in-state tuition rate and fees at public institutions as well as the reduced tuition rate at private institutions.
- The State Doctoral Scholar Program allows students to earn PhDs at reduced tuition rates at public institutions.
The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education
Composed of 15 states and a U.S. territory - Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands - the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education offers three programs:
- The Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) allows students to pay 150% of the in-state tuition rate for specific programs. There are over 150 two- and four-year public colleges participating.
- The Western Regional Graduate Program (WRGP) allows students to pay a reduced tuition rate. There are more than 400 such programs available.
- The Professional Student Exchange Program (PSEP) allows students to pay a reduced tuition rate. Programs exist across 10 healthcare fields.
Individual state partnerships also exist usually between just two states. Tuition rates may or may not be as low as the in-state costs, but are much lower than out-of-state. Check to see whether your state has any partnerships with other states.
Also remember to let your prospective colleges know you want to take advantage of an agreement, since there may be extra requirements you need to fulfill. Speak to a coordinator if applicable. There may be limits to the number of students allowed in these programs, so apply early.