Should My Student Apply Only to In-State Colleges?

“We can only afford in-state schools.”

“My son is applying only to in-state schools because he wants to stay close to home.”

We hear statements like these all the time. With an overwhelming number of college options available to families, it can feel good to have a clear-cut way of instantly narrowing down your college list. But how smart is this approach?

Let’s take a closer at these statements one at a time.

“We can only afford in-state schools.”

A lot of parents take one look at starting tuition costs for in-state versus out-of-state students at a couple of schools and quickly determine they’ll save big by staying in state. But there are a ton of factors that affect how much a college will actually cost for your family: the parents’ income and assets, the student’s grades and SAT/ACT scores, the college’s approach to merit aid versus need-based aid, and so much more! Just as every family’s financial situation is different, so is every college’s approach to financial aid.

We’ve worked with many families who got their best offers from out-of-state private schools. Even though some of these colleges may seem to have outrageous costs of attendance, they can actually be quite generous with merit scholarships for the right students, bringing the total out-of-pocket costs below those of in-state public schools.

In other cases, families may see that in-state colleges will offer them the best deals. And in even other cases, families may see a mix of excellent offers from both in-state and out-of-state colleges. Every family’s situation is unique.

To find out where your family is likely to fall along the spectrum, you can click here to schedule a meeting with a member of our financial team.

The bottom line is that you shouldn’t assume you can’t afford out-of-state colleges. Until you’ve met with an expert who can analyze your family’s financial and academic situation, it’s best to keep your options open.

“My son is applying only to in-state schools because he wants to stay close to home.”

This is a common line that we hear from parents. What’s surprising is the number of families who are open to looking at colleges five hours away–as long as they’re in state–but get nervous thinking about colleges that are only two or three hours away in another state.

We get it … it’s comforting to apply to colleges with familiar-sounding names or colleges where you know lots of friends or neighbors who have attended in the past. But by refusing to look at other options, you may be missing out on a college that’s truly the right fit for you.

If you’re not sure where to start, click here to set up a meeting with a member of our academic team to discuss the criteria that matter most to you in your college search. We can point you in the right direction, offer some suggestions, and teach you how best to research a college you’ve never heard of before.

It’s also a good idea to define what you mean by “close to home.” For some families, that means a two-hour radius. For others, a six-hour radius may seem fine. Again, every family’s situation is different, so it’s important to start these discussions early and begin planning ahead.

Need more help? Click here to schedule your personal consultation!