College Tuition Fees : In State vs Out Of State Fees

(Rewrite: Explain in detail about in-state and out of state, give examples with links to universities, show the difference in tuition fees, show how much one can save and why private schools don’t have in-state fees.)

There are several differences between “in-state” and “out-of-state” college tuition fees. Many students are confused about their college tuition fee structures, especially international students who typically must pay out-of-state tuition fees.

Before I explain about their difference, it would help if I first discuss some related terms:

  • Public Universities
  • Private Universities
  • State Tax funding

To run any university, money is needed. Where that money is sourced from categorizes colleges and universities. So we have public and private colleges and universities depending on where the funds are sourced to operate them.

Public Universities

In the U.S., every State has both a State Tax and a Federal Tax. While all American States have federal tax, there are some that don’t collect state tax, but majority of them do. And for every money earned, Americans must pay both state tax and federal tax.

Revenues collected from state tax are used by State governments to fund government operations, which also include allocations for schools, colleges, universities and the like. As such, these schools that are funded by state tax are called Public Schools.

Private Universities

Unlike public academic institutions, private schools don’t get funding support from the State government. These private organizations raise funds from donations, rewards, and of course tuition fees paid by the students.

Because of government-provided privileges and exemptions, students attending public universities will pay tuition fees much lower in comparison to those attending private universities.

In-State fees vs Out-of-State College Fees

Students who are residents of a particular State are required to pay in-state fees because their school is operated using State funds (primarily sourced from tax collections). Normally, in-state fees are lower.

Out-of-state fees, is paid by students who are not residents of that State where they go to school. For instance, when a student goes to school in Texas, but lives in Florida, he/she must pay out-of-state fees simply because the school (in Texas) is outside the student’s residence (Florida).

Example – University of Texas System

For 9 credits (usually 1 course = 3 credits)

Out of State tuition and International ~= $6,000
In State Tuition fee ~= $3,200

So now you can clearly see their difference. In the next post, I will talk about how this will impact International Students. I will elaborate on the question: “What happens if an International Student gets an RA/TA or a Scholarship grant?”

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  1. Ankit

    sir,my uncle is working in boston from last 6 years,and i want to do my MS from usa,so please tell me that how could he help me,he is a green card holder,could i eligible for public university,anyway.

    1. HSB

      Your uncle being GC holder is not going to help you in anyway. He can sponsor your education and you can also apply to universities near his place.

    2. Adi

      State universities are less expensive compared to private colleges, u can apply as a international student in state universities, but u will NOT be eligible for an "in state tuition fees".

  2. Peggy

    My husband has been working in AZ since Jan 2009 and I am in GA and have lived and worked there most of my life. Our daughter is in school in GA and we are paying in-state fees. I plan to move to AZ by summer 2010. Will she have to pay out-of-state fees in AZ in 20011/12 school year? We will have been AZ residents for a year by the time she moves to AZ but she is planning to stay in GA through spring 2011.

  3. Husna


    I was confused as to wht other things are taken in consideration for residency i mean i an a green card holder moved 2 months back but i had recieved my green card in Dec 2008 so it took me around 8 months to move from India now i am in IL and planning to give the GRE in ard 3 months , i got my state ID card issued in sept 2009 so is tht good enuff coz i havent got my drivers licence yet so was just wondering how and wht things might prove i was a resident for a year. would applying for net fall be a better option than the summer ???

  4. Lakshmi

    Does an international student eligible for instate tuition if sponsored by a green card holder?

  5. krupanka

    i am married.. now i want to do futher studies in USA ..and i have not given toefl exam..without toefl score can i take direct i will come by dependent wether they will give direct admission or make me to give toefl guide me…wether fee is same for everyone o various with type of student

  6. priyanka

    i am i want to do further studies in USA itself MS in MIS ..i have not taken toefl exam .now i will come on dependent visa bez my hubby works there..i want to ask whether i can take direct admission without toefl exam or i have speak with uni people…and one more thing i want to ask that fee is same or various with type of students like international ….. pl guide me i need some help from u…and i have prepared with recomadation and SOP

    1. Adi

      u have to take toefl to demonstrate your english profiency, however, whether or not can u waive the TOEFL depends on the course and the degree requirements on the college you are applying to.
      As off the fees, The state colleges will be less expensive compared to private colleges.

  7. Luke Feng

    Hi, I have a question about "in-state and out of state fee"

    I am 19 years old and had been living in Kansas for 7 years now (paid tax and stuff). My mother has been an California legal resident since July 2008. This year, I applied and got admitted to University of Kansas and some University of California schools. Both of them showed that I have to pay "out of state fee". My question is.. Should I be considered as "in state" for CA Universities since my mother is a legal resident of CA? or should i be considered as "in state" for KU since I had been go to public high school and living in Kansas for 7 years? I mean at least one of them should be "instate" right?

    thank you


    1. HSB

      Luke – You are right, atleast one must be instate. Talk to the admission office, they will ahve rules specific for each college that will help you determine in-state fees.

  8. priya

    I have two queries…
    1. What might be expected in phone interview from the university? I need tips to attend phone interview..
    2. I am immigrating to USA through I 129 F and also interested in doing my research degree.. In this case, under what category I will be enrolled- International or in-state?

    help me with details….

  9. Anushka

    I guess,duration of stay in that state is also required to qualify for in-state tution fees. Some Universities mention it as 1-2 years. Please give me the correct information.

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