College Tuition Fees : In State vs Out Of State Fees

Raghu Study in USA, Universities 50 Comments

(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?”

  • SK says:

    I worked in KY USA from 1996 to 2003. 2004-2016 I am in india. When i want to do a MS or a Research program now in KY, am i considered international or in-state ?

    • Raghuram Sukumar says:

      International Student and you will pay Out of State Fees. All F-1 students come under out of state unless they get a Scholarship or Assistantship.

  • Sowmya says:

    Am planning to get my son’s admission in US for his UG. and I will also start working in US (MI). May be both will move to US in a difference of 3-6 months time.

    question I have is — for the 1st year, am sure I have to pay “out of state fee”, however can I pay the “In state” fee, starting from 2nd year, as I will complete 1 full year as a resident of MI?

  • Ancy says:

    Hi Raghu,
    I have one question, in order to qualify for instate fees being on H-4 visa in California schools, they ask the physical presence in CA for atleast 366 days before the decision date. So are these 366 days have to be continuous? Or if I travel to India in between for 1-2 months, but still total days or presence in US are 366. So would I be considered for instate fees?
    Please answer. Thanks!


    Hi Raghu,
    I have 2 queries
    1.Is the Fee for Out State Student and International Student Same in Public Universities..
    2. Does the Private Universities also have In State and Out State Fee structure.

  • Kshitiz says:

    I came from nepal I lived in Connecticut for 4 months and moved towards Kentucky should I stay for 1 year or just 8 months to be in state there I have green card and social security number

  • RA says:

    My girlfriend is planning to study abroad. If I am a H1-b holder for California state, can she claim her in-state feed by applying for a H4 visa?
    given that I have paid state taxes for a year or more.

  • Paula says:

    I lived in the US for 3 years and studied kindergarten before I moved back to my home country.
    Me and my family might go back for good so I was wondering if I would still pay the out-of-state tution? And if I will, would I pay the in-state tuition fee for the next year since I’ve already stayed for more than a year?

  • Nilanjan says:

    I am international student from India.
    I will be flying to US on F1 VISA for my Masters after paying my SEVIS fee.

    Wherever, my university is, I will be staying in the neighborhood.
    Does that make me a resident? Will I be paying In-state or Out-of-state fee?