In-State Difficulty by State
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The above map categorizes every US state by how hard it is to earn in-state tuition. Although all states share common fundamental concepts when it comes to earning in-state status, every state has its own unique laws and every university its own unique interpretations. So even within the same state there are commonly easier and harder colleges.
-Full-time school typically possible
-Some financial independence
-At least part-time school typically OK
-Part-time job typically required
-Medium financial independence
-Some sacrifices likely involved
Qualifying for in-state in Alabama is medium-difficult but most notably you can’t begin the 1-year process until you’re 19-years-old (usually).
Two year domicile requirement is twice as long as most states. Lucky for some universities in Alaska, a handy trick exists to effectively bypass out-of-state tuition.
As of spring 2014, establishing resident tuition status takes only one-year for most people instead of two.
Arkansas requires only a 6-month domicile period meaning in-state status can be gained quickly if you know what you’re doing.
California is special when it comes to earning in-state tuition. The University of California (UC) system is across-the-board extremely strict but still amenable to at least the lucky and very dedicate. This contrasts with the California State University (CSU) system which is practically impossible for most colleges in the CSU system except a few outliers.
Major in-state residency interpretation changes in Fall 2013 for the University of Colorado system made a difficult state in which to earn in-state residency even more difficult.
UConn is the major college in Connecticut and although in-state appears basically impossible, it’s not! It’s actually very do-able for those dedicated and willing to make it happen.
Rules governing in-state residency requirements in Delaware vary greatly by university.
You’re lucky if you’re a DC resident wanting to go to college outside of DC, learn about that special arrangement here. Not a DC resident but wanting to go to college in DC…a little less lucky but you’re not too bad off.
You need to be prepared for limited to no school for a year substituted for work preferably full-time. But thankfully, the financial requirements offer some relief. You don’t have to be entirely on your own like some harder states.
Except for at a couple smaller colleges, getting in-state in Georgia is generally going to require an alternative year of no school and lots of work instead.
Universities in Hawaii have a substantial difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition so taking limited school for a year and working a good amount instead seems like a no-brainer but few people actually go through with it, why!?
If you can cut back on your classes and work a little extra in your free time then getting in-state in Idaho is likely within reach.
Getting in-state in Illinois is tough. More often than not a gap-year will be required as well as strict financial restrictions.
In general with very few exceptions, if you apply to a university in Indiana before moving to Indiana (like most people!), then that will be held against you forever such that you can’t earn in-state status. Messed up right?
Getting in-state at University of Iowa is super demanding and rigorous while getting it at Iowa State University is a much simpler proposition. Either are doable but it just goes to show how differently schools can interpret the same state regulations.
Have family in Kansas who can help you out a bit? That could help.
Kentucky resident tuition can only be earned by hard workers and is restricted primarily to only those financing themselves through school.
Ready to work? Great! You’ll need to work full-time in Louisiana for a year to demonstrate your worthiness for in-state status.
It’s hard and easy to earn in-state status in Maine. Much easier if you moved to Maine before applying to school in Maine. Lucky is he or she who contacts In-State Angels before applying to any universities in Maine.
Maryland is a bit tricky when it comes to getting in-state status. Live in the dorms? Bummer, you’re not getting any closer to in-state.
Super strict financial requirements make getting in-state status in Massachusetts especially difficult. The only way to overcome is with a gap-year of utter financial independence which is available to anyone but few attempt.
Universities in Michigan vary by in-state difficulty but in general it’s tough. Prohibitively tough for almost everybody. But maybe you’re special and willing to work for it?
Not as difficult as it’s made to seem, getting in-state in Minnesota is a real viable possibility for many but few even try.
You 21 yet? Let me save you some trouble then…just give up. The fine state of Mississippi is a great place to be; however, their conception of what it takes to become a resident for tuition purposes has been preventing deserving people from in-state since the 70’s.
Great disparity in difficult of acquiring in-state status in Missouri depending on the university. Really hard at some Missouri schools while much less difficult at others.
If you’re willing to for one year go to school a little less and work a little more and you’re paying for a good chunk of your own education, then Montana is a great place to earn in-state status.
You’re not going to want to take more than 6 credit-hours/term for a year if you’re hoping to get in-state in Nebraska. Even that is too many at other schools in Nebraska.
UNLV is here, UNR. Nevada is welcoming place to earn in-state residency. With some careful strategy and execution, you could get it by sophomore year with limited sacrifices required.
Strict financial requirements. No school for a year. Full-time Employment. Utter self-support.
New Jersey requires “unusual circumstances” to demonstrate the financial independence component of earning in-state tuition in NJ. Translation: you effectively can’t hope for in-state status until you’re 23 unless you have a very rare situation.
In-state is very do-able but people talk themselves out of attempting it all the time. There are a lot more reasons to say yes to in-state in New Mexico than reasons to say no.
The difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition isn’t as drastic in New York as it in most other states. With a lesser reward, a difficult in-state process, and a low out-of-state student population, it’s no wonder that few even attempt in-state residency.
Hard but not impossible. Practically speaking, you’ll likely want to take a year off from school (either before or after freshman year) to make some money working in NC.
North Dakota is the easiest state in America in which to earn in-state tuition. ND basically gives it away to anybody who can get their picture taken. Yet so many people don’t do what’s required!
Which school we’re talking about in Ohio makes a difference. Some schools in Ohio are very hard places to establish residency while many are of medium difficulty.
Unlike almost every other state, there are a couple loopholes to avoid out-of-state tuition status in Oklahoma. Aside from those, earning in-state in Oklahoma is restricted to those willing to go to school half-time max and work in their free time.
Get in-state tuition in Oregon, it’s of medium difficulty which although quite do-able, is more trouble than most people are willing to follow through with. There are some potential sacrifices to be made but it’s well worth it.
During your one-year domicile period… Gap year required? Yes. Full-time job employment? Yes. Help from parents? Absolutely not. Sound difficult? It is.
Tiny state with few universities; nevertheless, universities in Rhode island differ substantially when it comes to their policies of earning in-state status.
There are over 30 public universities to choose from in South Carolina with Clemson and The University of South Carolina – Columbia being the most popular. Unknown to most people living in the dorms is required at most universities in South Carolina but living in the dorms also disqualifies you from in-state status.
However there are a number of alternative strategies you can use to establish residency.
Getting in-state in South Dakota is close to irrelevant. That’s because the difference in out-of-state vs. in-state tuition is close to nothing.
Want in-state in Tennessee? You can’t just have. You’ve gotta work full-time and you better not go to school very much during your 8-month to 12-month domicile period.
Gainful employment is the key to earning in-state status in Texas. No, that does not mean working at Starbucks. It does mean that you probably can’t manage full-time school for your 1-year domicile period.
The second easiest state in which to earn in-state residency and it’s still kinda tough. Rules exist and if you mess up then you’re out of luck.
Want to earn in-state tuition in Vermont? The odds are stacked against you so high. I bet you’ve already applied to Vermont…if so, you’ve already ruined your chances! Vermont’s in-state rules seem (and probably are) illegal but they get away with it somehow.
Going to school during your one-year domicile period is ill advised. In your downtime, work a lot. Otherwise it would be a better use of your time to give up on getting in-state status.
Cut back on school for a year and works a good amount OR stay in school and work a ton. Do one or the other but whatever you do, avoid that super expensive out-of-state tuition if you deserve in-state status.
Get ready for a year off school and lots of work instead. Outside that, you won’t be getting in-state status in West Virginia.
Wisconsin has its own way of doing things when it comes to establishing residency for tuition purposes. Future lawyer? Great! You’ll need to convince a panel of faculty, administrators, and student in a court-like setting.
Formerly a green state, Wyoming was very do-able prior to late 2015. Goes to show that in-state regulations are far from set-in-stone and the rules themselves or the interpretations can change abruptly without warning.