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Attending college in state gives more bang for the buck

The decision between staying in state and moving out of state for college has crossed every high school senior’s mind at least once, and it is a choice that follows them well into their freshman and sophomore years of college. The ultimate hope for most is to know they haven’t wasted thousands of dollars on a facility that pales in comparison to somewhere they could have gone with better opportunities. 

With tuition increasing nearly 80 percent in the last 10 years, according to data from the Department of Labor, it’s no wonder students are going with the better, cheaper option of staying close to home. While before, the decision to move out of state seemed relatively simple, now the idea of paying out-of-state tuition and expenses such as room and board is too much for some students to handle. At USF, tuition is more than double for out-of-state applicants, and the same goes for universities such as FSU, UF and UCF. 

Putting money aside, choosing to stay in state or deciding to move away each carry their own set of pros and cons that have to be taken into consideration. 

Moving out of state can be a problem for students who have never lived in the area where their college is located. It’s more than just the campus — the town and the city become part of a student’s home, an environment they have to live in. This is one of the reasons most decide to attend a local college or at least an institution in their home state: familiarity. 

Only 8 percent of students at USF are from out of state. 

But if a student is looking for ample opportunities, a new environment and new experiences, out of state is likely to be the better option. Students also gain independence from these experiences away from home, learn to live on their own and tend to step outside their comfort zone. 

Some, however, prefer to live at and attend college close by, as the transition from high school to college is already huge. At USF, only 24 percent of students live in college-owned, -operated or -affiliated housing. 

Also, according to a paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research, public universities have lower admissions requirements for in-state than for out-of-state applicants, while private universities tend to treat both applicants equally. This again makes local and state institutions favorable over those that are hundreds of miles away. 

It seems like the most practical solution to this debate is what many — yet not nearly enough — students do who want to move out of state but don’t want to drown in loan debt: live in the state of the desired college for a year, gain residency, and then attend the school paying in-state tuition. 

But one thing to take into account is that, according to an article in U.S. News, enough apparent ties to a student’s home state can cause the institution to reject the applicant simply for trying to manipulate the system. Students have to make clear their intentions to remain in that state. 

Those looking to attend college away from home have a lot more than just the tuition cost and environment to worry about. Attending an out-of-state institution is a life-changing decision. Depending on their goals for themselves and their careers, out-of-state tuition might seem well worth it, but for most it is not. 

Nataly Capote is a freshman majoring in mass communications.