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Why Does Out-Of-State Tuition Cost So Much?

Mazana+Boerboom+visits+the+University+of+Montana%27s+Journalism+department+where+she+intends+to+enroll+in+the+Fall.+
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Why Does Out-Of-State Tuition Cost So Much?

Mazana Boerboom visits the University of Montana's Journalism department where she intends to enroll in the Fall.

Mazana Boerboom visits the University of Montana's Journalism department where she intends to enroll in the Fall.

Alicia Boerboom

Mazana Boerboom visits the University of Montana's Journalism department where she intends to enroll in the Fall.

Alicia Boerboom

Alicia Boerboom

Mazana Boerboom visits the University of Montana's Journalism department where she intends to enroll in the Fall.

Mazana Boerboom, Section Editor

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As an aspiring out-of-state college student I have often wondered, and grumbled, over the insanely high tuition costs of attending a college out of your own state. I have argued that this causes a lack of unity due to separation among states in our country, and that if free college is possible in other countries such as Germany and Sweden, then why haven’t we tried to achieve it as well? It’s coming to the point where almost nobody can afford college, without the help of loans, even with the help of grants and scholarships. Most students, according to Student Loan Hero, land themselves in piles of student loan debt, and somehow these already formidable prices climb higher every year. According to Forbes, college prices have been increasing at 2 ½ times the inflation rate.

It is hard to argue against the advantages of staying in state. As the school’s college adviser, Diego Dominguez, said in an interview, in-state college allows the possibility of cheaper tuition, the ability to live at home and avoid room and board costs. He added that, “Even with a scholarship, resident tuition can be greater valued, because when it comes to out-of-state you need more and more scholarships, while in-state students can probably win one or two and then that’s it.” Not to mention scholarships such as the Regent’s only apply to students staying in Utah, it is much harder to find financial support when leaving your own state. However, when you find your perfect college, get into the program of your dreams, or you get the opportunity to live in a new place and experience new things, it’s hard to think in terms of what will be most beneficial to you, financially. Senior Sydney Bishop, a future Montana State University student, feels that out-of-state is the way for her. She told Colt Roundup, “Utah is amazing, but I am never going to not be curious, unless I move around and see what else is out there. I’m here to experience experiences.”

There are, of course, some techniques to working around the system. For example, if you receive scholarships that are meant to reduce out-of-state tuition to a manageable rate, such as the Western Undergraduate Exchange. These scholarships make it easier for students living in a certain region to go to another state within that region. Another way is to gain residency in that state, though this is not the easiest option, it can help a student who wishes to go out-of-state, but who does not have the means of which to pay for it. Dominguez stated that, “Usually it’s okay to wait a year and then go to college if they’re going out-of-state, meaning they move after high school live there for a year or 6 months and from that they become a resident and they don’t have to pay the out-of-state tuition fee.” This though can often be a hassle. College Xpress says that, “Residency requirements vary from state to state as well as from college to college, but in general, you must prove that you have been a resident for at least 12 months and that you intend to remain a permanent resident of the state for the foreseeable future.” This is not always the easiest accomplishment. It means you must live, work and pay taxes in a state. Colleges look for things such as a driver’s license in their state, license plate and registration on your car for their state, even library cards help prove you intend to stick around. Bishop plans to take this course of action, she said, “The price for out-of-state college is outrageous! My dream college is in Montana, so I am moving there for one year prior to starting school to become a resident, that way I can pay in-state tuition.”

The price for out-of-state college is outrageous! ”

— Sydney Bishop

It is baffling that paying for education has become so difficult. Why does the US charge its citizens so much for a basic education? Even some colleges abroad offer more affordable, or even free, tuition to international students. Yet we can’t even offer affordable prices to students from neighboring states? When asked why the prices are so outrageous Dominguez answered simply, “That is the question of the day.” Through research I’ve found that the main reason comes down to taxes. Tax money goes towards education in states, and states don’t want their residents to pay for students of other states to go to college. Yet The Economist brings up an interesting point, “But the other side of the coin is that states should presumably want better access to other states’ universities for their students (which suggests that there may be a coordination problem across states).” This further encourages the question of why? According to The Atlantic, our problem is that, “Americans have an allergy to straightforward policy solutions involving the public sector. And for that, we pay a price.”

In the last presidential election both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders were offering the promise of free tuition to families making less than $125,000 per year. This of course was rejected by Republicans for the economic consequences. They planned to make up for the lost revenue by placing a higher tax on Wall Street. Meaning there would be a sort of sales tax on stock exchanges. This plan would cost roughly $75 billion. In 2014 the government collected about $58 billion in tuition money, but gave around $31 billion in grants and work-study. Which means they only made around $27 billion anyway, and the Wall Street tax would make up for a lot of this lost money. Even without the tax on Wall Street, there is a plethora of other places where the government could cut costs. For example, according to Commercial Observer, in 2012 the government spent $27 million to teach Moroccans how to make pottery and $146 million to upgrade federal employees to business class flights. Although cutting one or both of these things wouldn’t be enough to cover the costs of college, they were only two examples of millions, possibly billions, of dollars spent on unnecessary projects and promotions. If the government funneled all of this extra money towards free tuition it would reap more benefits for the economy in the long run. If college was more affordable it would likely encourage lower income students to pursue their college dreams, and relieve the debts caused by higher education.

Thankfully, it appears that some states are already on the right track. New York is implementing a program where families making under $100,000 a year can go to college for their undergraduate degree tuition free. However, students in this program must live in New York for several years after they gain their degree. Other states and cities working towards similar programs are Rhode Island, Tennessee, San Francisco, Oregon, Louisiana, Minnesota, South Dakota and Arkansas, each with a variety of requirements and conditions. Hopefully, this is the push the rest of the country needs to start making college an affordable option that students of all income can achieve. Students should not have to worry about loan debt and increased out-of-state tuition costs when it comes to achieving higher education. They shouldn’t have to choose a college other than the one of their dreams for financial purposes or have to take a year off just to gain residency. Hopefully, soon this will be a reality for students across the country.

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Why Does Out-Of-State Tuition Cost So Much?