In-state tuition for college can cost a lot less than out-of-state tuition, often by one third. This makes state colleges and universities powerful lures for students and families looking to limit the cost.
Until recently, some categories of individuals, including “stateless” veterans and undocumented immigrants, were not eligible for in-state tuition no matter where they lived. In most states, to receive in-state tuition, you have to be able to prove that you’ve lived in the state for at least one year. Veterans just coming off of deployment can’t do that, nor can children of undocumented workers.
Now some states are doing away with the residency requirement for certain categories, including the so-called Dreamers. In August 2014, Congress passed a bill allowing stateless veterans to gain eligibility to in-state tuition at state colleges and universities across the country. Changing the residency requirement may stop there for now, but ways may exist for your child to qualify for in-state tuition even if your child lives out of state.
US News & World Report has reported that many states will waive the residency requirement for children of policeman, firemen or soldiers.
In some parts of the United States, your child may be able to benefit from an intra-state regional exchange that enables a student to trade an in-state status with another student’s in-state status. The Midwest Student Exchange Program, the Western Undergraduate Exchange, the New England Board of Higher Education and the Academic Common Market can help make attending an out-of-state college in a nearby state more affordable.
Establishing residency in another state is another way to qualify for in-state college tuition. Most states will consider you a resident if you live there for one year, are over age 23, pay state income taxes, and register your car in the state – essentially cutting all ties to any other state. Although this isn’t a recommended option for students straight out of high school, it could work for graduate school students or students who took time off before attending college.