If you're unsure what in-state vs. out-of-state tuition means for you, this article sorts out the confusion.
Get the tips you need to succeed

We know you’re busy, so we're here to take the guesswork out of financial aid, college applications, and how to survive college life. And best of all, it’s free!

Get exclusive test prep info now!

Since score matters, sign up and get our proven test prep tips & 40% off our test prep books. And best of all, it's free!

Petersons Free PSAT Sample Test
Free Sample PSAT® Test Questions & Answers

The PSAT® test is right around the corner. Our FREE sample questions give you a peek into the type of questions you can expect to see on the test.

Get Started

If you are applying to a state college, you’ve noticed the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition. In many colleges, the difference can be profound and make a big difference in the total amount you pay for college. State colleges have in-state tuition to encourage residence of their state to attend their local college and possibly stay in their home state once they graduate and enter the work force. Each state has requirements that need to be met in order to classify a student as eligible for in-state tuition. Here are some residency requirements that states examine:

How long your parents have lived in the state:

The amount of time your parents need to have lived in a particular state in order to be considered a “resident” of the state varies from six months to two years depending upon the state. Some states waive this residency requirement in the case of military personnel or for children of first responders who have been injured or killed on the job.

If you are an independent student – an older student who is no longer considered a dependent of their parents – you or your spouse typically need to have been residence of the state for at least a year before applying to the school. Again, there may be differences depending on the rules governing in-state tuition in each particular state.

Who finances your education and where do they live?

There are some cases where you may have parents who are divorced and one of the two parents live in the state for which you are applying to attend college. In these cases, the parent that lives in the state should be the student’s main source of financial support.

The state should be considered your main residence:

You’ll want to be able to approve that you or your parents consider the state in which you are applying for in-state tuition is considered your main residence. You have to show that you live there most of the time and consider the state home. Having a vacation home or part-time residence in a state may not qualify you for in-state tuition in that state.

Other items that will help prove residency:

The more you or your parents can provide to prove that you truly do claim this state as your primary residence, the better off you’ll be. Obviously if you can demonstrate that your parents (or you if you are an independent student) work in the state, it helps to prove residency. If you or your parents have a state driver’s license, registered a motor vehicle or own a home in the state, this helps as well. You can also show evidence of your permanent residency by showing that you participate in local social clubs, charities or fraternal organizations. Providing information like this can help prove your residency to prospective colleges.

Most of these above items are geared toward parents or independent students who have recently moved to a new state. If you are applying for in-state tuition in the state you grew up in and where your parents have lived for years, it’s likely not going to be too difficult to prove that you are a state resident. If you have just moved to a new state within the past few years, it is a good idea to fully understand the state’s in-state tuition requirements before applying to college.

Peterson's is YOUR guide to college information
Get exclusive information on schools, scholarships, and test prep

Log in to Peterson's

Forgot your password?

To reset your password, simply enter your email address in the field below and click the Reset Password button. You will receive an email with a link and instructions to reset your password.

Check your email

Please check your email and click on the link provided in the message to reset your password.


I certify that I am the subscriber to the provided cellular or other wireless number and I authorize {{SchoolName}} and its representatives and agents to contact me regarding educational opportunities at any current and future numbers that I provide for my cellular telephone or other wireless device using automatic dialing systems, artificial or prerecorded messages, and/or SMS text messages, even if I will be charged by my service provider(s) for receiving such communications. Consent is not a condition for receiving more information from {{SchoolName}}, and I understand that if I no longer wish to receive communications, I will need to contact {{SchoolName}} to alter this consent.

Disagree Agree
Petersons Monthly Scholarship

Peterson’s November $1,000 Scholarship

Turn the colors of the leaves back to green with our $1,000 scholarship