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In-State vs. Out-of-State in the US: Which is Best?

In-State vs. Out-of-State in the US: Which is Best? main image

Have you decided you want to stay in the United States to get your degree? Before deciding which schools you want to apply to, you’re going to want to decide whether you’ll study in-state, or out-of-state. There are advantages and disadvantages associated with both, so it’s not necessarily as straightforward as checking whether a school in your home state has a good reputation.

To help you get, a better understanding of the pros and cons associated with studying in-state and out-of-state, here’s our guide to the key things you should be considering.

Tuition may cost more out-of-state

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The first thing that probably comes to mind when you’re thinking about going out-of-state is the cost associated with tuition. In the majority of cases, out-of-state tuition is three to four times more expensive than if you stayed in-state to get your degree. There are, however, a couple of exceptions to this rule. For example, if you go to a private school in-state it may end up being more expensive than if you were to go to a public school out-of-state.

It’s also important to consider scholarships. While you can get a variety of scholarships when applying to colleges and graduate school programs, there are specific scholarships for out-of-state students. These scholarships can sometimes make the tuition for out-of-state schools comparable to staying in-state. Researching scholarship options regardless of whether you’re staying in-state or out-of-state is always a smart idea.

Stick with the familiar, or try something new?

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When deciding where you want to get your degree, it’s worth thinking about the experiences you want to have while completing the program. Are you wanting to explore someplace new while getting your degree, or do you like the area you’re from and want to build on your experiences there?

If you’ve grown up in Athens, Georgia, in the shadow of Georgia State University, and have positive memories of walking around its campus and cheering from the stands at football games on Saturday nights, you’ll likely be more inclined to stay in Georgia for your studies as it will already feel like home. That’s not to say you wouldn’t be able to replicate that type of experience if you moved to another part of the country though. You might even find moving exposes you to new and different experiences, which can be exciting. Either way, it’s something to consider before starting the application process.

Consider the campus lifestyle and size

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Campus life is likely to vary depending on whether you choose to study in-state or out-of-state. For example, the campus life at schools in southern California is going to be very different than studying at NYU in the middle of New York City. In California, you might have a beach right outside of your dorm room, while NYU would put you right in the middle of all of the hustle and bustle that NYC offers. Contrasts like this exist all across the country, so you’ll want to weigh up what the campus experience will be like in your home state, and decide if you’d rather try a different lifestyle.

Campus size is also something that will affect your experiences. Smaller campuses may have smaller class sizes and therefore provide an opportunity for you to build a community with peers who are in your classes. On the other hand, campuses that have larger student populations typically have greater opportunities to get involved outside of your studies. Deciding whether or not you’re interested in getting involved in things like greek life, student organizations or sports clubs can help you have a clearer idea of what type of school would be the best fit for you.

Study somewhere with promising job opportunities

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Opportunities for networking and internships should be another factor to think about when deciding where you want to get your degree. Depending on what you study, many schools have opportunities for internships while getting your degree or networking groups to connect you to jobs in the area. For example, Texas A&M has alumni networking groups in all of the major cities in Texas, so if you were looking to land a job in Texas after college this would be something to consider. It’s fairly common for graduates to end up working close to where they studied, especially as internships are often in and around the area in which you study, so choosing a college in a different state may also be committing you to working there too.

While you don’t necessarily have to go to school in the state where you eventually want to work, it can be helpful. If you are still unsure what your plans are or where you want to end up after completing your education then it’s best to base your decision on whether to study in-state or out-of-state on other factors.

Take time to consider your options

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As this article has shown, there are multiple things to consider when choosing which schools to apply to. Ultimately, there isn’t a right or wrong answer as long as you make your decision based off what best fits your needs.

After you’ve carefully made your decision, it’s time to begin the application process. At this point, it may also be helpful to meet with schools face to face and get more information on them. QS runs events for both those who are in the process of applying to college to get a bachelor's degree, as well as for those who are applying for a masters. You can get more information on our events here.

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Written by Darcy Bickham
Darcy Bickham is a graduate from Texas A&M University and has worked in education related fields for the past four years. Over the years she has developed experience writing on a variety of topics including business, local politics, transportation, and both primary and higher education.

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