Things to Think About When Applying to Out-of-State Schools

Going to school close to home isn’t always an option for some students. For many, the college years are all about getting out, exploring different surroundings, meeting new people and having new experiences. However, applying to out-of-state schools is a serious decision and one that should never be taken lightly. College bound students thinking about making such a big move will want to keep the following information in mind when weighing their options.

#1: Out-of-State Costs

It goes without saying that out-of-state schools often charge high tuition and fees for students that are not a resident of the state where their college is located. Before filling out applications, it is essential that students and their families sit down and do a thorough evaluation of their finances. Factor in all possible costs related to attending your school of choice out-of-state—don’t forget to include things like books and school supplies. In addition to college-related expenses, there are also those dealing with your living situation that must be taken into consideration as well.

Make a plan to apply for as much financial aid as possible. Complete the FAFSA first (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), which will calculate how much financial assistance you’ll need to attend the school of your choice out-of-state. Once you know that amount, it will make it much easier to begin applying for scholarships and grants. Student loans are also an option but try to earn as much free money for school as possible before relying on this method.

Other options for lowering tuition and fees at out-of-state schools include trying to qualify for in-state tuition. Each state has its own requirements for qualifying but in general, to secure in-state tuition for college, out-of-state students must be able to prove that they will plan on remaining within their school’s state either as a domicile or permanent resident after graduation. Out-of-state schools may also offer tuition waivers to students with special circumstances, such as wanting to enroll in a college whose academic program may not be available in their home state.

#2: Living Accommodations

Unless a student has family or friends to live with, applying to out-of-state schools means planning for where you’ll live for the duration of your college years. Dormitories are the most convenient and logical choice, especially for incoming freshmen but that will also add onto the amount for school related expenses. If you want to keep it simple and stick with the dorms, arrange for a campus tour so that you can see the facilities and the campus for yourself. This will prevent any unpleasant surprises.

Upperclassmen have the ability to choose off campus housing. While attending out-of-state schools, students will also have to account for their living situation once they leave the dorms. Begin looking into available apartments, studios or homes renting rooms to students well in advance. Knowing this information ahead of time will help with budgeting.

#3: Employment

For the majority of college students, money is always an obstacle. It isn’t uncommon for students to hold down part-time or even full-time jobs while maintaining their course load. When applying to out-of-state schools, it is a good idea to do research into what the job market is like in the state you’re considering moving to. Find out what the most popular jobs are for college students and which places are hiring. Knowing the rate for minimum wage in the state is also ideal for calculating how many hours you’ll need to commit in order to afford things like rent, car payment, groceries, etc.

#4: Transportation

Not all students have the flexibility to take their cars with them when moving out-of-state. Depending on your situation, you’ll need to figure out your transportation needs and what methods of travel are available. Most college towns have various modes of transportation to make getting to and from campus more convenient. Students living on-campus in the dorms or on-campus housing obviously won’t have to worry about this issue. However, those living away from campus may want to consider learning how to take the bus, train or—if they live close enough—ride a bicycle to school. Out-of-state students who need a vehicle to get them to and from campus will not only have to purchase a car (if they don’t already have access to one), they’ll have to factor in the cost of maintenance, gas, parking fees on-campus (if applicable) and where they’ll be able to park their car while not at school.

#5: Transfer Credits

Just as incoming freshmen apply to out-of-state schools so do transfer students. However, it is important to do research beforehand and make sure that the college credits earned at your current college or university are not only transferable but that the school you plan on attending out-of-state will accept them. This part of the process should be planned well in advance before filling out an application for an out-of-state college. Once you know the credits will transfer over, you can then begin working towards completing the courses needed to successfully go from one college to another on time.

#6: Time Frame

Out-of-state schools operate on either semesters or quarters. It is important that incoming students know what year and semester/quarter they’ll be enrolling upon acceptance. When filling out applications, make sure you give yourself enough time to make the transition. Remember, you’ll have to dedicate enough time to physically move to your new residence, get your things together for school and have your paperwork and documentation in order for living in a new state. You may want to consider moving a bit earlier before school starts so that you’ll have plenty of time to get settled. However, doing so also means making sure to budget your funds.

#7: Miscellaneous Things

Depending on your living situation and whether you plan on becoming a domicile or permanent resident of your new state, you may have to deal with switching over your driver’s license, vehicle plates, registration, etc. You’ll also have to notify your insurance company and deal with obtaining a new policy and premiums.