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Do Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs Charge In-State or Out-of-State Tuition?

Students considering getting an online college education likely have questions about online bachelor’s degree tuition. One big and somewhat complicated question is regarding in-state and out-of-state tuition in online degree programs. Because affordability is a major factor in determining whether a student enrolls in a program, it pays to understand this question.

Why In-State And Out-Of-State Tuition Exists

Public schools are funded by the state, and therefore taxpayer dollars. This is why a lower rate is offered to in-state residents because their taxes fund the schools. States assume that in-state students are more likely to get jobs in that state and contribute to the state’s overall economy upon graduation. In-state students are perceived as having stronger roots in a state and less likely to go elsewhere. Out-of-state students do not fund the universities with their taxes and are thought as less likely to get a job or start a business in a state in which they have no roots. This is why the practice has been used for many years and is unlikely to change soon. As more public, non-profit schools begin to offer online degree programs, more students and schools have grappled with the question of what to charge for online bachelor’s degree tuition. Out-of-state tuition rates are always higher than in-state tuition rates, barring odd circumstances.

It Depends On The Program

Whether a student is charged out-of-state or in-state tuition depends entirely on the nature of the program and the individual school’s policies. The issue is non-existent when looking at for-profit schools or private universities. These schools do not offer differing tuition rates depending on residency. In fact, according to U.S. News & and World Report, education at for-profit online colleges is cheaper than out-of-state tuition at public universities or private colleges. In-state and out-of-state tuition only matters at publicly-funded state schools. To complicate the matter, some states have reciprocal programs with neighboring states, allowing students from both states to receive in-state tuition at each other’s universities. Some state schools offer online programs for a separate cost and do not take the student’s residency information into account.

Proving Residency

Students who wish to enroll in online degree programs for in-state tuition rates will need to prove residency as they would when applying to a traditional program. Different states and universities have different requirements, although most require living in the state for a set amount of time. For dependents, most states require that the family moves to that state in order to receive in-state tuition. Residency can usually only be claimed through a legal guardian, spouse or parent. Non-dependents usually must live in the state for a certain amount of time, which is usually a year. In many cases, students also must prove they intend to live in the state for the foreseeable future to qualify for in-state tuition. Documents that can prove residency include car registration, voter registration, income tax returns showing an in-state address, homeownership in the state, involvement in local communities and more.

The subject of in-state and out-of-state tuition becomes more complicated when it’s about online degree programs. Different schools have different policies, so all prospective students should determine what a public school charges for their online degree programs before enrolling. Online bachelor’s degree tuition is one of many factors students should consider when choosing a university.