Students discuss the differences between in and out-of-state colleges

Priya Viswanathan, Opinions Editor

At $28,776, the yearly average tuition for out-of-state students at West Virginia University is $13,044 more than the average cost of in-state-tuition at the University of Virginia. Though the two colleges are only four hours away from each other, price gaps such as this encourage numerous students to apply to colleges within Virginia.

“Unlike in-state schools, out-of-state schools cost a lot more and not everyone can afford it,” junior Swathi Potti said.

However, some students may be able to pay in-state tuition at out-of-state colleges. According to the Southern Regional Education Board, the Academic Common Market program allows students to enroll at out-of-state public schools and pay that college’s in-state tuition when pursuing a major not offered in public schools in their home state.

Other than cost, distance from home is another factor students consider when deciding where to apply for college. While some students enjoy the security of staying close to home, many want to go to an out-of-state institution so that they can be independent.

“[When you’re in state,] you’re close to home but sometimes you just want to start a new life,” junior Alice Han said.

Along with this independence, however, comes many new changes. Often times going out of state requires students to start a new life and adapt to a new community and culture, which can be difficult.

“There’s a huge leap of independence needed [to go to college out of state], and some students are there and some aren’t quite there,” counselor Rebecca Watrud said.

Another aspect of college that students often consider when deciding whether or not to go in state is the diversity of choices. One advantage of out-of-state colleges is that there are more options to choose from, enabling students to find the right fit for them.

“There are a lot of new choices, and you can meet a lot of new people [out of state],” Han said.

Taking these advantages and disadvantages into account, many have chosen to attend in-state schools. One such student is senior Khang Nguyen, who has decided to attend Virginia Tech in the fall.

“In state is a lot cheaper of an option and also for [my undergraduate degree], I didn’t want to spend too much money,” Nguyen said. “After [my undergraduate degree], for graduate school, I will probably plan to go out of state.”

On the other hand, senior Michael Rosegrant applied to nine schools out of state and only one in Virginia.

“I chose to apply primarily to out-of-state colleges and universities because I have been living in the same place for almost 18 years now and I decided for the next four years, I want my life journey to take me to a new place filled with new faces,” Rosegrant said.

To help make this decision, students have many resources open to them. Juniors who are beginning the college application process can talk to their school counselors and families to receive advice on the topic. Many also suggest that students visit all the colleges, both in and out-of-state, that they plan on applying to so they can get an idea of what the campus is like.

“It is impossible to imagine where you are going to be for four years of your life if you haven’t visited,” Watrud said.

Students should also consider their plans after college. Students planning on going to graduate school will have to take more factors into consideration when choosing the college they want to attend compared to those planning on joining the workforce after earning their undergraduate degree.

“Think about how long you are going to be at college and if you plan to go to graduate school,” Nguyen said.

College is one of the biggest experiences of most students’ academic careers, and therefore it is very important that they make an informed decision when choosing between in-state and out-of-state schools.

“Go with whatever your preference is,” Potti said. “There are advantages and disadvantages for both, so pick whatever you think is the best for you.”