By Lauren Minnick

As college is growing more expensive, many students opt to attend a university in their home state to help save on tuition costs. At the University of Georgia, in-state students can expect to save over $19,000 annually compared to their out-of-state peers, according to UGA’s Undergraduate Admissions website.

These savings then beg the question, is going to college out of state worth the extra expense? The answer is yes for 25% of the class of 2026 who enrolled at UGA from outside the state of Georgia.

Devin Jansen, a UGA junior political science major from California, said her decision to attend a university out-of-state came down to wanting to expand outside of the community she grew up in and the comparable costs of other out of state schools with similar attributes.

Jansen said she “grew up in the same house, same city, and same world around [her],” and that she always wanted to go to school out of state to branch out from the opportunities offered in her hometown.

Jansen was financially comfortable choosing UGA over other out of state universities possessing similar characteristics since “there was not much of a difference between the tuition [at UGA] and the other out of state schools I was considering.”

According to College Board data reported by Bankrate.com, the national average tuition and fees for the 2021-22 school year is $16,820 higher at out-of-state schools than at in-state schools.

While more expensive than going to school in-state, many out of state schools try to keep their prices competitive with other comparable universities to encourage students already planning to venture across state lines to leverage characteristics that are unique to a university in their decision process rather than favoring lower tuition cost alone. These characteristics are often harder to monetize, which means it falls to the students to decide how to value them.

When asked how UGA encourages out-of-staters to attend the university, Rod Guajardo, senior director for integrated media communications in the school’s Division of Marketing and Communications, said UGA highlights attributes unique to the university. He mentioned school culture, athletic prominence and various programs offered on campus as reasons they use to encourage prospective students to apply.

Hanneh Bareham, a student loans reporter at Bankrate.com, said the question if a school’s cost is “worth it” often comes down to the individual applicants’ valuation of a school’s attributes and then making a decision that best aligns with their wants and needs.

“The choice to attend an out-of-state university is dependent on whether the school meets the career, academic and social needs of the student,” Bareham said. “Students should also consider the return-on-investment (ROI) of their degree. Attending an out-of-state school may make the most sense for those pursuing specialized fields of study not available elsewhere.”

Students’ higher education choices also depend on their financial standing prior to entering college. While federal and state aid is available to all students, out-of-state tuition is often higher regardless of aid. For students where affordability is a large factor in their decision-making process, Bareham said there are a number of creative ways that students may use to help reduce costs.

For example, Bareham said students may be able to lower tuition through a regional tuition reciprocity agreement, granted through various programs that allow students to attend an out-of-state college in their region without paying out-of-state tuition, or an institutional tuition waiver, which is an award specifically given by a university to out-of-state students to help them alleviate their added costs of tuition for students with financial need.

“Awareness of the financial aid resources can help make an out-of-state degree more manageable and less financially intimidating,” Bareham said. “Before making a decision based on costs, students should maximize potential award earnings and apply for need-based financial aid, scholarships and institutional grants.”

 

Lauren Minnick is a journalism student at the University of Georgia.