Tuition Exchanges have Benefits for Students, States

Yesterday I wrote about tuition exchanges as a way to reduce college costs for students in niche majors who have interests in going out-of-state for college. Let’s talk a little bit about the benefits of these exchanges. There are two main benefits:

  1. They allow states to specialize in which academic programs they offer, ensuring that funding can go to bettering the programs they have rather than trying (and failing) to catch up to competitors by adding new programs. Doing so means that they can
  2. They provide students with more financially feasible options when it comes to their college choice.

If you’ve know a person who has an interest in studying a niche major, looking at a tuition exchange might be in his or her best interests. Academic Common Market is one of four major regional exchanges and covers most states in the Southeast. The Midwest Student Exchange Program is exactly what it sounds like – a tuition exchange for Midwestern students. The Western Undergraduate Exchange covers Alaska, Hawaii, the Pacific Coast and every other state west of Texas. Tuition Break covers students in New England. There are 6 states that are not members of exchanges: Iowa, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Two states, Florida and Texas, participate only at the graduate level. If you are lucky enough to live in South Dakota, you get access to all of the Midwest and Western exchange states. There are some regional agreements (Alberta, Canada has an agreement with Minnesota and the Dakotas), but “the big four” cover most of the exchange agreements in the United States.

Whether students actually take advantage of these agreements is a bit up for debate. We do have some evidence that a exchange member universities have a higher out-of-state enrollment than what we’d expect if they weren’t exchange members. I’ll get a little more into detail on that in my next post.

(This post was adapted from on originally posted on my linkedin page last February. Featured photo of graduates at the University of Georgia, a top exchange school for poultry engineering as noted in my last post.)

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