|UVa tops the list of most expensive options for out-of-state students|
This is the time of year parents of college-bound seniors suddenly seem to focus on how much it’s going to cost to send their children across state lines to attend public institutions.
“Do you know how much more it’s going to cost to send our son to the University of Michigan over Virginia Tech?” complains one such Commonwealth family.
Yes. And the price difference hasn’t changed substantially in the past year when their son began the process of applying to his dream school in Ann Arbor.
These parents have figured out they’ll be working ten more years and sacrificing retirement for their son to go to Michigan. And he’s upset and disappointed to see all he’s worked for suddenly taken off the table because it’s “just too expensive” or “not worth” an additional $100,000 or more over four years for him to leave state.
Despite repeated requests for families to look carefully at cost before jumping full throttle into the admissions fray, this question or one similar comes up every single year from Virginia families grappling with the final decision of which school makes the most sense from a financial perspective.
And although Virginia offers some really good college deals to residents, comparable questions are being asked in other sections of the country as families look at the bottom line cost of a college education outside of their home state.
But taking a step back, it’s really interesting to see how quickly the in-state/out-of-state differential has grown over the past several years.
Somewhere along the line, top-ranked public institutions discovered that out-of-state students represent a serious source of revenue for budgets suffering from relentless reductions in state appropriations. They coined the title “public ivy” and began setting prices to match—some more aggressively than others.
According to a recent report from the College Board, the average published out-of-state tuition and fees at public four-year colleges and universities rose from $22,223 in 2013-14, to 22,958, in 2014-15. Average total charges (including room and board) came to $32,762.
Compare this with the published tuition and fees for in-state students, which increased from $8,885 to $9,139. Including room and board, the average in-state student could expect to pay somewhere in the vicinity of $18,943.
And differences across states could be really significant.
In 2014-15, the published out-of-state tuition and fees at public four-year institutions ranged from $9,910 in South Dakota and $14,876 in Wyoming to $31,982 in Michigan and $34,331 in Vermont.
In addition, tuition rates for out-of-state students at “name” public institutions are continuing to go through the roof as schools persist in probing how much the market will bear.
For example, in 2003, the University of Texas at Austin charged nonresidents $11,268. In 2014-15, these students paid $34,722—more than three times as much. At the same time, rival Texas A&M went from $12,131 all the way up to $26,356, for out-of-state students.
During this period, Clemson went from $13,639 to $31,562, and the Citadel went from $13,410 to $32,176. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill increased out-of-state tuition from $15,841 to $33,428, and the University of Tennessee at Knoxville went from $13,282 to $30,066.
On the west coast, the University of Washington increased to $33,513 from $16,121, while in the south, Georgia Tech rose to $30,698 from $16,002.
Yes, state college systems are definitely looking for out-of-state students, both to help balance budgets but also to make up for declining populations of students graduating from high schools within their borders.
And colleges love to brag about how many states are represented on their campuses.
But just because you represent a little “geographic” diversity for the most expensive schools, don’t expect to receive much in the way of financial aid. Most merit aid goes to support other more pressing interests.
So do your research before assuming that a public institution is automatically less expensive than a neighboring private college or university. You may be surprised to find that between reasonable tuition and generous financial aid, the private option looks pretty attractive.
For the record, the following are 20 residential public institutions where out-of-state students paid the most tuition (based on data collected by the College Board and compiled by the Chronicle of Higher Education) in 2014-15:
- University of Virginia: $42,184 ($52,236 including room and board)
- University of Michigan at Ann Arbor: $41,906 ($52,152)
- College of William and Mary: $39,360 ($49,704)
- University of Vermont: $37,844 ($48,654)
- University of California at Irvine: $37,635 ($50,273)
- Virginia Military Institute: $37,574 ($45,946)
- University of California at Davis: $36,774 ($50,992)
- University of California at Santa Barbara: $36,738 ($50,866)
- University of California at San Diego: $36,334 ($48,588)
- University of California at Santa Cruz: $36,294 ($50,703)
- University of California at Riverside: $36,285 ($51,285)
- University of California at Merced: $36,038 ($51,073)
- University of California at Los Angeles: $35,907 ($49,042)
- University of California at Berkeley: $35,850 ($51,288)
- Michigan State University: $34,965 ($44,119)
- University of Texas at Austin: $34,722 ($46,178)
- Colorado School of Mines: $33,598 ($44,082)
- University of Washington: $33,513 ($44,346)
- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: $33,428 ($44,020)
- University of Washington at Tacoma: $33,381 ($44,214)