Crossing state lines can drive up college tuition costs

There are ways around higher costs

SAN ANTONIO – If you or your child are heading off to college, choosing a state school can mean big savings compared to schools outside of your home state, where you may pay a premium.

When Francesco Scioscia considered colleges, he chose Binghamton University, a public school in his home state of New York, largely because of the cost of tuition.

“I feel great going to Binghamton for the education I’m getting for the money that I’m paying them,” he said.

Students at in-state public colleges and universities save an average of almost $24,000 a year, compared to their peers at private institutions.

Crossing state lines can more than double the cost of tuition, even for a public college, but under certain circumstances, you may be able to pay the in-state price.

“A number of states are welcoming students who want to stay and work after college. It can be significant savings to pay in-state tuition, but it’s not always easy to do,” said Donna Rosato, Consumer Reports’ money editor.

One key is to establish residency. The rules vary by state, but some basic guidelines apply.

The first thing a student should do is move as early as possible. Most schools require that you live in the state for a full year before you enroll in school to qualify as an in-state student. Expect to provide proof of residency, such as tax returns, property records and an in-state driver’s license.

It’s also important to cut financial ties to your home state, which could be a deal-breaker for many college students who are often claimed as dependents by their parents.

“Establishing residence isn’t a game, and schools enforce their rules rigorously. You have to really be in it for the right reasons,” Rosato said.

There are some exceptions. Some colleges may let you establish residency while you’re in school, even if you start out with out-of-state status.

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