Somewhere along the line, top-ranked public institutions discovered that out-of-state students represented a serious source of revenue for budgets suffering from relentless reductions in state appropriations. They coined the title “public ivy” and began to set 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 $21,533 in 2012-13, to 22,203 in 2013-14—3.1 percent. Average total charges (including room and board) came to $31,701.
Compare this with the published tuition and fees for in-state students which increased from $8,646 to $8,893. Including room and board, the average in-state student could expect to pay somewhere in the vicinity of $18,391.
In other words, crossing state lines to go to a public college or university can be a costly proposition!
Over the past ten years, tuition rates for out-of-state students at some public institutions have more than doubled. For example, in 2003, the University of Texas at Austin charged nonresidents $11,268. In 2013-14, these students paid $33,824—three times as much. At the same time, rival Texas A&M went from $12,131 all the way up to $25,126 for out-of-state students.
During this period, Clemson went from $13,639 to $30,826, and the Citadel went from $13,410 to $31,038. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill increased out-of-state tuition from $15,841 to $30,122, and the University of Tennessee at Knoxville went from $13,282 to $29,384.
And on the west coast, the University of Washington increased to $31,970 from $16,121, while in the South, Georgia Tech rose to $29,954 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 school within their borders.
But just because you represent “geographic” diversity for these 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 public institutions where out-of-state students pay the most tuition (based on data collected by the College Board and compiled by the Chronicle of Higher Education):
- University of Michigan: $40,392 ($50,388 with room and board)
- University of Virginia: $39,844 ($49,561)
- College of William and Mary: $37,851 ($47,473)
- University of California-Davis $36,780 ($50,741)
- University of Vermont: $36,646 ($47,048)
- University of California-Santa Barbara: $36,624 ($50,429)
- University of California-Santa Cruz: $36,294 ($50,703)
- University of California-San Diego: $36,180 ($48,158)
- University of California-Irvine: $36,027 ($48,100)
- University of California-Merced: $35,948 ($50,665)
- University of California-Riverside: $35,838 ($49,338)
- University of California-Berkeley: $35,742 ($50,922)
- University of California-Los Angeles: $35,574 ($50,027)
- Virginia Military Institute: $35,392 ($43,480)
- University of Texas at Austin: $33,824 ($45,186)
- Michigan State University: $33,796 ($42,652)
- Colorado School of Mines: $32,415 ($42,518)
- Indiana University Bloomington: $32,350 ($41,499)
- University of Colorado Boulder: $32,297 ($44,555)
- University of Washington: $31,971 ($42,723)