College Tuition Fees : In State vs Out Of State Fees

Raghuram Sukumar Study in USA, Universities 52 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?”


  1. Hi. please i want to know if Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Nova Southeastern Uiversity are state universities. Thanks

  2. Hello, I would like to ask a question please : What if I am an international student but I rented a room in the state , which fees do I have to pay ? thanks

  3. 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?

  4. Hello
    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?

  5. 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.

  6. 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

  7. 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.

    1. Author

      1. Yes.
      2. Private doesn’t have in or out of state. Just one fee and scholarships.

  8. 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!

    1. Author

      Travel would be ok, as long as you can prove that you were in the state for over 1 year.

  9. Hello
    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?

  10. 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 ?

    1. Author

      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.

  11. If I reside in the particular state I wish to study in for 1 year and then apply to a state university, I will be paying for in-state fee right?

    any reply would be greatly appreciated!

  12. i am from india .I had completed my 10+2 and i wanted to study in america .can you pls tell me the name of universities which have low fee structure for international students and courses of 1 year that are simpler to get in ? will be very thankful

  13. Hey I lived in Pennsylvania for 13 years and my parents live there but I moved to New York for and now I have 2years living here and I want to attend a online college in Pennsylvania would that be out-state tuition fee or in-state ?

  14. Hey I lived in Pennsylvania for 13 years and my parents live there but I moved to New York for and now I have 2years living here and I want to attend a online college in Pennsylvania would that be out-state tuition fee or in-state ?

  15. if i am from other country, i want to study in US. which tuition fee i have to pay; in state or out state.

  16. How Long must a person reside in any given state to be considered for “in state?” tuition?

      1. if i have an F2 Visa and have resided in a particular state for a year, will i be considered for in state Tuition fee ? if not for how long do i need to be living in that state to avail the in state Tuition fee?

  17. Hi. I am a citizen of ghana who wants to study in Minnesota. I have an aunty who resides in Minnesota who will sponsor my tuition and will be staying with her. Do I have to pay in-state or out of state?

  18. I am from india and I want to purse my study in USA which fee i have to pay??

  19. Im from nigeria but i have an uncle who is based in the US and he resides in california,he also will sponsor my education so will i still have to pay out f state tuition??

      1. Hes my sponsor and he resides in california so why will he pay out of state tuition?

  20. Hi. So i am a US Citizen. I was born and lived in Texas for 13 years, then I had to move to Russia because of my father’s business. I currently study at an Anglo-American School in Moscow for the remainder of my high school years. My question is: what fees would i have to pay? International? Out of state? And also lets say if i were to move back to the US how long would i have to stay in my future universities state to only pay in-state fees

  21. Hey!

    So I am a person of Indian origin (as both my parents are Indian) and I’ve lived in India most of my life but I was born in California so legally I’m a citizen of California. What fees would I have to pay if I’m applying for a college there? International or in-state?


    1. Author

      There’s nothing called citizen if a state in the U.S. You meant to say Resident of California.

  22. My mother is a [email protected] UTA, Arlington on F1 visa and i am studying in higher school in Arlinton too & F2 visa.
    I am planing to get into UTA next year’ am i eligible for inter state tution fee exemption?

  23. I actually live in Texas and I would like to study in Florida but here is my question do if I study in Florida do I have to pay out of state fees????

  24. i am from india .I had completed my 10+2 and i wanted to study in america .can you pls tell me the name of universities which have low fee structure for international students and courses of 1 year that are simpler to get in ? will be very thankful

  25. 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. 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. 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".

  26. 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.

  27. Hi

    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 ???

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

  29. 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

  30. 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. HI.!
      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.

  31. 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. 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.

  32. Hi,
    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….

  33. 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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