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I wrote a well-read post last year called TUITION HACK: LITTLE-KNOWN WAYS TO PAY IN-STATE TUITION RATES AT OUT-OF-STATE COLLEGES. It’s about cutting the high cost of out-of-state public universities by becoming an actual resident of the particular state where the college was located.

As I mentioned in the article, there are four basic elements used to determine residency by these out-of-state public universities. They are, 1) Duration of residence requirement, 2) Financial independence, 3) Proof of residency, and 4) Non-academic purpose for becoming a resident.

The price an out-of-state student pays can be 50% higher than that charged to in-state residents.  However, becoming an actual resident of the state that your college choice is located can be very difficult. Another way to bring down the cost of out-of-state tuition is through regional exchange programs.

Regional exchange programs allow residents of participating states to attend member colleges at the school’s in-state rate, or at a significantly discounted cost. Here are the current four exchange programs in the United States:

Academic Common Market

Midwest Student Exchange

New England Student Exchange

Western Undergraduate Exchange

 There are some restrictions on these out-of-state reciprocity programs.

Not all states participate. New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey,  Iowa, and North Carolina do not participate in any program.

Not all public schools within each state participate in any program, especially the most popular state flagship universities.

Schools that do participate Western Undergraduate Exchange and Midwest Student Exchange may restrict the majors available and the total number of program participants allowed.

The New England Regional Student Program and the Academic Common Market require that students major in a program not available in their home state. If they change majors, they lose the discount.

Yes, there are a lot of stipulations you must be aware of, but if the student qualifies he or she could potentially eliminate the out-of-state premium to their ideal college choice. The following table lists the exchange programs for each state.


Exchange Program

Alabama Academic Common Market
Alaska Western Undergraduate Exchange
Arizona Western Undergraduate Exchange
Arkansas Academic Common Market
California Western Undergraduate Exchange
Colorado Western Undergraduate Exchange
Connecticut New England Student Exchange
Delaware Academic Common Market
Florida Academic Common Market
Georgia Academic Common Market
Hawaii Western Undergraduate Exchange
Idaho Western Undergraduate Exchange
Illinois Midwest Student Exchange
Indiana Midwest Student Exchange
Iowa None
Kansas Midwest Student Exchange
Kentucky Academic Common Market
Louisiana Academic Common Market
Maine New England Student Exchange
Maryland Academic Common Market
Massachusetts New England Student Exchange
Mississippi Academic Common Market
Montana Western Undergraduate Exchange
Nebraska Midwest Student Exchange
Nevada Western Undergraduate Exchange
Oklahoma Academic Common Market
New Hampshire New England Student Exchange
New Mexico Western Undergraduate Exchange
New Jersey None
New York None
North Carolina None
North Dakota Midwest Student Exchange
Ohio None
Oregon Western Undergraduate Exchange
Pennsylvania None
Rhode Island New England Student Exchange
South Dakota Western Undergraduate Exchange
South Carolina Academic Common Market
Tennessee Academic Common Market
Texas Academic Common Market
Utah Western Undergraduate Exchange
Vermont New England Regional Student Program (RSP)
Virginia Academic Common Market
Washington Western Undergraduate Exchange
West Virginia Academic Common Market
Wisconsin Midwest Student Exchange Program
Wyoming Western Undergraduate Exchange

Posted by Ron Them

For over 30 years, the nation's leading financial advisors, broker/dealers, and major media outlets have been using his research, funding strategies, training, and insight. Ron is highly regarded as an expert in the college funding field.

He is a former Chief Financial Officer of a Fortune 500 company and currently owns his own financial advisory company specializing in cash flow planning for business owners and executives. He developed the Cash Flow Recovery™ process that uses cash flow management principals to increase asset value and build wealth for business owners.

He is also the originator of several software calculators to help advisors and families make college affordable, including:

* College QuikPlan EFC Calculator
* "Find the Money" College Cash Flow Calculator
* College Debt Reduction Calculator

Ron has been quoted in U.S. News and World Report, Kiplinger's Personal Finance, Smart Money, Financial Advisor Magazine, Small Firm Profit Report, Practical Accountant, LIMRA's Market Facts, Senior Advisors Magazine, HR Magazine,, Employee Benefit News Magazine,, Entrepreneur Magazine, Insurance Selling Magazine,, The Christian Voice, and Columbus CEO Magazine.