Campus of Trinity college in Dublin, Ireland.

For families who are very concerned about college affordability, attending a state public institution could be a great choice. Not only would the average cost of living for a college student be significantly lower, but some of the most respected institutions of higher learning in the country happen to be state schools. Here are some reasons why many students choose to attend their state college each year.


In-state college could be the best bang for your buck

According to The College Board’s Trends in College Pricing, tuition and fees for in‐state students at public four‐year institutions was $9,410 in 2015-16. With room and board charges, the sticker price rose to $19,548. Compare that to the out-of-state public college tuition of $23,893 ($34,031 with room and board), or private four-year schools costing an average of $32,405 (or $43,921 for those who dorm), and it’s clear that students who attend a state college or university in their home state get a better deal.

It’s close to home

If you choose to dorm at your state college, it’s likely that trips home won’t break your budget. You might even decide to come home on weekends to do laundry at Mom’s or have a couple of home-cooked meals per week (and take back the leftovers!), which equals more savings for you.

Or, you can commute

Students who pay the least for college – under $10k per year as noted above – are those who are able to continue living at home. Without room and board to cover, that’s a few thousand dollars in savings, assuming that Mom and Dad won’t be charging you rent. What’s more is you won’t have to go out and buy all new dorm gear. Another money-related perk might include being able to continue working at your part-time job. This is especially beneficial if you’ve already invested a couple of years working somewhere and earn more than the typical off-campus job or if you help out with a family-owned business.

Local knowledge

As a state school student, it’s likely that you already know something about local deals, cheap places to eat and shop and other bargain hunter gems that usually have more of a learning curve in unfamiliar territory. You also probably won’t have to worry about changing your banking institution, and you can continue to use your own doctors, dentist and hair stylists — conveniences you might take for granted until you move far away.

Lots of extracurricular opportunities

Because state institutions are usually very large to accommodate so many students, you can expect a plethora of student organizations and activities on campus, too. This will help you enjoy the college “experience,” whether you live on campus or commute.

Major choices

Just as with campus life, when it comes to academics at a large public university, there are lots of study options. From dozens of majors and minors, to multitudes of elective courses, you’ll have no trouble finding courses that interest you.

Networking opportunities

Larger institutions attract guest speakers; host free events, seminars and lectures; and employ some of the most brilliant professors who are experts in their fields. Connecting with these people — not to mention your fellow students — can enrich your experience and open up doorways to internships, your first job after graduation and beyond.

Sticking around your hometown for college might not seem all that glamorous at first, but do yourself a favor and take a few state college tours. Not only is it the best way to reduce the average cost of living for a college student, but you just might be surprised at how much state colleges and universities have to offer.

Author: Dawn Papandrea
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