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10 Public Schools With the Cheapest Out-of-State Tuition

Kelsey Sheehy

The U.S. News Short List, separate from our overall rankings, is a regular series that magnifies individual data points in hopes of providing students and parents a way to find which undergraduate or graduate programs excel or have room to grow in specific areas. Be sure to explore The Short List: College and The Short List: Grad School to find data that matters to you in your college or grad school search.

State schools can allow college students to get a top-rated education without venturing too far from home or dropping loads of cash on a private institution.

The University of Michigan--Ann Arbor, University of Virginia and the University of California--Los Angeles, for example, all rank among the top 30 universities in the country and offer sticker prices below $13,500 for students lucky enough to live in those states. That is a bargain when compared with the more than $40,000 tuition rates at similarly ranked private institutions such as Carnegie Mellon University or the University of Southern California.

As soon as students cross state lines, tuition at most public schools doubles, though.

[Find advice and resources on paying for college.]

Out-of-state tuition averaged roughly $19,100 for the 2012-2013 school year, compared with nearly $8,300 for in-state students, according to data reported by 331 ranked public colleges in an annual survey by U.S. News.

But closer isn't always cheaper. Regional exchange programs allow students to attend select schools in nearby states for a fraction of out-of-state tuition, but come with conditions and restrictions. Financial aid packages that include scholarships and grants can also slash nonresident tuition.

[Learn how to get in-state tuition at out-of-state colleges.]

Students who don't qualify for either of those options aren't confined to their home states. Some colleges keep out-of-state tuition low to attract a diverse blend of students from across the country.

Minot State University in North Dakota set tuition for 2012-2013 at just under $6,000 for all students, regardless of residency, making it the least expensive public college for out-of-state students.

West Texas A&M University, Louisiana State University--Alexandria and the University of South Dakota are also among the 10 cheapest public schools for nonresident students. Average out-of-state tuition at these 10 schools was roughly $8,600 for 2012-2013, just a few hundred dollars more than average in-state tuition across the country.

[Discover 10 ways to save on college costs.]

The five military academies, which charge $0 in tuition in return for postgraduate service, were excluded from this list, as were schools designated by U.S. News as Unranked. U.S. News did not calculate a numerical ranking for Unranked programs because the program did not meet certain criteria that U.S. News requires to be numerically ranked.

Below are the least expensive public colleges for out-of-state students, based on tuition and required fees. These figures do not include room and board, books, transportation or other costs.

School name (state) Tuition and fees (2012-2013) U.S. News rank and category
Minot State University (ND) $5,921 107, Regional Universities (Midwest)
West Texas A&M University $7,630 72, Regional Universities (West)
Bemidji State University (MN) $8,106 93, Regional Universities (Midwest)
Mayville State University (ND) $8,436 51, Regional Colleges (Midwest)
Northern State University (SD) $9,133 51, Regional Colleges (Midwest)
Midwestern State University (TX) $9,188 RNP*, Regional Universities (West)
Louisiana State University--Alexandria $9,244 RNP, National Liberal Arts Colleges
South Dakota State University $9,350 199, National Universities
University of South Dakota $9,650 199, National Universities
Missouri Southern State University $9,654 72, Regional Colleges (Midwest)

*RNP denotes an institution that is ranked in the bottom one-fourth of its rankings category. U.S. News calculates a rank for the school but has decided not to publish it.

Don't see your school in the top 10? Access the U.S. News College Compass to find tuition data, complete rankings and much more. School officials can access historical data and rankings, including of peer institutions, via U.S. News Academic Insights.

U.S. News surveyed more than 1,800 colleges and universities for our 2012 survey of undergraduate programs. Schools self-reported a myriad of data regarding their academic programs and the makeup of their student body, among other areas, making U.S. News's data the most accurate and detailed collection of college facts and figures of its kind. While U.S. News uses much of this survey data to rank schools for our annual Best Colleges rankings, the data can also be useful when examined on a smaller scale. U.S. News will now produce lists of data, separate from the overall rankings, meant to provide students and parents a means to find which schools excel, or have room to grow, in specific areas that are important to them. While the data come from the schools themselves, these lists are not related to, and have no influence over, U.S. News's rankings of Best Colleges or Best Graduate Schools. The tuition and fees data above are correct as of June 25, 2013.

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