Through tuition waivers, out-of-state students are able to afford colleges that would otherwise be more expensive. 

Many students want to attend a college in another state only to be held back by steep, out-of-state tuition prices. The national student loan debt topping $1.4 trillion, it makes sense that students want to look for ways to cut down on expenses anywhere they can.

Fortunately, more colleges are starting to offer tuition waivers so students can bypass this hurdle. By obtaining a tuition waiver, out-of-state students are allowed to pay less expensive in-state tuition prices, according to U.S. News & World Report.

How Do the Tuition Waivers Work?

The rules for obtaining a tuition waiver will vary depending upon the school. For instance, many schools grant tuition waivers to the dependents of military veterans or students with special circumstances. California will grant tuition waivers to non-resident students who previously attended a California high school.

States like Georgia, Florida, and Texas are given waivers by their governing boards. The schools then distribute tuition waivers to out-of-state students based on merit.

Each college is granted a certain number of waivers to distribute. “So it's almost like a scholarship…and they decide the criteria on who to give it to," Kristen Moon, the founder of a college admissions consulting firm, told U.S. News.

At Georgia’s Kennesaw State University, high academic achievers can apply to obtain a tuition waiver by submitting a short essay. Meanwhile, the University of Alabama offers presidential scholarships. Students who qualify receive up to $25,000 per academic year. To qualify, students must score at least a 33 on their ACT and have a GPA of 3.5 or higher.

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Alternatives to a Tuition Waiver

Paying for college isn’t as easy as it sounds though. Moon said that students who are hoping to receive a tuition waiver will likely “need to be within the top 5 to 10 percent of their incoming class.” She added that it is easier to receive a scholarship to a private university than as an out-of-state resident hoping to attend a public university.

Legacy scholarships are another option that students can look into. If one or both parents attended an out-of-state school, that school may be willing to give their dependent children a break on tuition.

Some schools will also make an exception for students that live close to the state line. These are known as tuition reciprocity agreements. Minnesota has an agreement with several nearby states that reduce the tuition costs for those residents. Students can view the full list of states that offer these types of programs.

For students who hope to attend an out-of-state school, there are options available. However, the eligibility requirements will vary depending on where students live and what their degree program is, so students should do their homework before applying. Students might also want to look for schools that offer the most scholarship money, which can help reduce the need to borrow to pay for college.