In-State vs. Out-of-State Tuition in Texas

Wondering how to get in-state tuition in Texas? Keep reading to learn about Texas residency requirements.

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by Staff Writers

Published on March 9, 2022 · Updated on May 16, 2022

Edited by Jared McMasters
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In-State vs. Out-of-State Tuition in Texas


There are many reasons to study and live in Texas. The Austin Business Journal reports that the state led the country in population growth for 2021, adding more than 380,000 new residents over 12 months.

Many individuals want to move to attend colleges in Texas. However, they may wonder how they can achieve residence status and avoid higher out-of-state tuition rates in addition to the cost of living.

Students who want to take advantage of in-state tuition in Texas but have questions about how to qualify can find answers and valuable information below. For more information about going to college in the Lone Star State, check out our Resources for Students in Texas page.

What's the Difference Between In-State vs. Out-of-State Tuition?

Out-of-state students who want to qualify for in-state tuition in Texas must meet several requirements.

Learners must live in Texas for at least one year before enrolling and establish a home in the state. They must also identify as independent (as opposed to being claimed for tax purposes as a dependent). If are still being claimed as a dependent, their parents or guardians must meet the first two requirements.

Qualifying for in-state tuition is preferable for students hoping to keep their expenses low and avoid substantial college loan debt. If they cannot gain residency, students can look into the lowest out-of-state tuition options.

With continually rising costs, some students question whether colleges should lower tuition rates. Until that happens, degree-seekers should make sure they understand their finances and tuition costs to make an informed decision.

How Much Is In-State Tuition in Texas?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), students qualifying for in-state tuition at public four-year institutions in Texas paid an average of about $8,600 in tuition and fees during the 2019-2020 academic year. Those attending a public two-year school as a resident paid an average of $2,380 during the same period.

The average in-state tuition rates in Texas remain lower than in most other states. While Florida students paid an average of roughly $4,460 in 2019-2020, according to NCES, those in Vermont paid about $17,080.

Texas also sits somewhere in the middle when comparing the cost of living across the U.S. While cities like Austin or Houston may be more expensive, the state is home to many smaller cities and rural areas with lower costs.

In-State Tuition Costs and Required Fees in Texas, 2019-2020
Institution Type Average Cost of Tuition and Fees
Public 4-year (in-state) $8,598
Public 2-year (in-state) $2,380
Private 4-year $36,014

Source: NCES

Can I Get In-State Tuition in Texas?

According to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), students who meet Texas residency requirements pay approximately three times less than their out-of-state peers. Establishing residency can help learners pay substantially less across their two or four years of education, making it an attractive option for many students.

For those who don't currently live in the Lone Star State, Texas law lays out requirements for getting in-state tuition:

To prove Texas residency, students must provide evidence of an establishing residence (through a rental or purchase) and provide evidence that they lived in the property for at least one year before enrolling.

How Much Is Out-of-State Tuition in Texas?

As stated by the THECB, out-of-state learners in Texas pay approximately three times what their resident counterparts pay to attend a public institution. According to NCES, in-state learners paid about $8,600 at public four-year public schools during the 2019-2020 academic year. Out-of-state students paid about $24,890 during the same period.

While tuition rates are higher for those who don't meet residency requirements, some learners still decide attending a Texas institution makes sense for their academic and professional goals.

Out-of-State Tuition Costs and Required Fees in Texas, 2019-2020
Institution Type Average Cost of Tuition and Fees
Public 4-year $24,889
Public 2-year $6,373
Private 4-year $36,014

Source: NCES

Can Out-of-State Students Get In-State Tuition Rates in Texas?

In addition to the residency pathways outlined earlier on this page, the state of Texas provides three additional routes for out-of-state learners to qualify for in-state tuition.

Reciprocity Programs

Many states participate in reciprocity agreements that allow their students to get in-state tuition in other states in exchange for doing the same. As a member state of the Academic Common Market, Texas currently only offers in-state tuition to students in qualifying states who want to earn a graduate degree in Texas.

High Academic Achievement

In addition to qualifying for academic merit scholarships, students with strong academic performances may qualify for waivers that allow them to pay in-state tuition. Ways of standing out include high GPAs, good AP scores, and high SAT or ACT scores. College for All Texans works to provide Texas resident tuition for nonresident learners and also provides several college scholarships.

Exemptions and Exceptions

Some public colleges and universities in Texas offer exemptions and exceptions for learners who meet specific requirements, regardless of residency status. The University of Texas at Austin provides a comprehensive list of current tuition exemptions and who qualifies.

Additionally, several schools in Texas allow online students to pay in-state tuition rates regardless of where they live. Texas Tech University provides this provision for online-only students, as does the University of Texas at San Antonio. Students considering online learning at a Texas institution should check with prospective schools to see if this exception is available.

Frequently Asked Questions About In-State vs. Out-of-State Tuition in Texas

Who qualifies for in-state tuition in Texas? true

Several types of students qualify for in-state tuition in Texas. Individuals who currently live in Texas with their parents or guardians and attended at least their final year of high school in the state qualify for in-state tuition. Those whose parents or guardians move with them to Texas can qualify if they live in the state and establish a residence 12 months before enrolling.

Individuals considered independent for tax purposes can also follow the 12-month rule by establishing a residence and living in the state before enrolling. Some public schools also allow learners completing their education fully online to qualify for in-state tuition.

Why is out-of-state tuition so much higher than in-state? true

Regardless of the state, the taxpayer dollars of those who live in a state partially fund public colleges. Because of this, residents qualify for lower tuition rates since they have, in a sense, already paid for parts of their education.

States and public colleges reason that out-of-state students have not contributed tax dollars, so they should not qualify for lower tuition rates. Because of these laws, many students decide to enroll at a public college in their state of residence or seek residency where they plan to study.

How long do you have to live in Texas to get in-state tuition? true

Under current Texas law, individuals must spend 12 months in the state prior to enrolling to qualify for in-state tuition. That said, they must meet several requirements.

For instance, a recent high school graduate who moves to Texas and establishes residency 12 months before enrolling will not qualify for in-state tuition if their parents or guardians still categorize them as a dependent for tax purposes.

In this case, their parents or guardians must also move to Texas or stop claiming the student as a dependant on taxes and allow them to file taxes independently.

Does Texas have tuition reciprocity with any other states?

As of 2022, Texas participates in the Academic Common Market, but only for graduate students looking to attend programs in the state. At this time, undergraduates must still pay out-of-state tuition even if their state maintains reciprocity with Texas.

Students in this situation may want to see which other states their state maintains reciprocity with and see if any provide the agreement at the undergraduate level.

What is the Texas nonresident tuition exemption?

Several types of nonresident tuition exemptions exist, including academics, reciprocity, and online learning. Students with established academic merit can qualify for scholarships and waivers to bring their tuition down to in-state levels.

Some Texas institutions also allow out-of-state learners who plan to study exclusively online to pay in-state tuition. Those guidelines vary from school to school, so learners should check with admission counselors to determine if this may be possible.

Feature Image: dszc / E+ / Getty Images

A great town is a key aspect of many students' college experience. Read on to learn about the best college towns in Texas. Which degrees offer the strongest return on investment in Texas? Learn about the fastest-growing Texas careers before earning a degree in Texas.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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