In-state Tuition vs Out of State Tuition for Internationals - F1 Students - H1B Visa Holders

In-state vs Out-of State tuition Fee? F1, H1B, L1 Visas Eligibility

In Application Info by KumarUpdated : 251 Comments

If you plan to study in the US, tuition fee is one of the biggest expenditures of all your student life. If you work in US for some time, you maybe eligible for certain benefits like in-state tuition fee and can save on tuition fee.  In this article, we will explain the difference between in-state vs out-of-state tuition fee and explain the eligibility criteria for various visa types like F1, H1B, H4, and others.

What is Out of State Tuition or International Student Tuition Fee ?

As the name says, it is tuition fee that you pay if you are NOT from that US State. i.e., if you go to school in  Texas and you are not from Texas, you have to pay Out of state tuition. So, all the international students on F1 visa fall under this category as they do not belong to any of the state in the US. Typically the out of state tuition is more or less double than the in-state tuition. For instance, if your in-state fee was $3,000, then the out-of-state tuition would be $6,000 or so.

What is In-State Tuition Fee in US ?

Well, the word says, it is the tuition fee you pay if you are “in” the sate, which technically means you are from the state or have lived in the state or your parents are from that state. In-state tution is always cheaper than the out-of-state tuition. The reason is that, as the residents of the State, they pay taxes and University education is subsidised in public universities for the residents. Bottom line, your taxes you pay are doing the trick here and getting you a big saving on Tuition. In fact, the State Budget has allocation for all the State Schools.  Thats where the money is coming for schools to give you in-state. We will look at the requirements later in the article.

Usually, in-state tuition fee is about 50% or so of the out-of-state tuition fee. If you are not a resident from that US state, you will not qualify for the in-state tuition fee. You must be a resident or your parents must be from the state and have paid taxes. If your parents are from the state, it is assumed that they have paid taxes and have proof that they were or are state residents.

In-state Tuition Fee only in Public Universities

In-state Tuition concept is only available in the Public Universities that are part of the State. These are universities that have the state or city name in their name like University of Houston, University of Texas at Arlington, University of California, Berkeley, etc. Private Universities do not have the concept of in-state tuition. Some examples of such schools are MIT ( Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Harvard University, University of Southern California (USC), etc. If you check tuition fee at MIT , you will not even see a column for in-state. It will only say Fee or cost to attend.

In-State Tuition Fee Eligibility for H1B, H4, L1 ?

In-state tuition fee eligibility for a student is based on the residency requirements that are set by State. It is not based on US citizenship, but rather based on your residency status in that state and if you have paid taxes. Even, if you are a US citizen and born in a state, but have not lived there and paid taxes, you may not be eligible for in-state tuition.

So, logically, if you meet the residency requirements and taxation, then you will eligible for in-state tuition. It is no different for work visa holders like H1B, L1 or their dependents on H4 or L2. Most of the Public Universities in US consider an individual or their dependents for in-state tuition, if they physically live, work and pay taxes in that state for one year.

For example, you can check Univ of California, Berkeley Residency Requirements and Visa Categories Eligible for in-state to see how they look and qualify someone.

Proofs of Residency for In-state Tuition Fee

Usually, you need to submit proof to the University that you have established residency requirements of the state. Also, most of the states need that you need to be continuously living in that state for the previous one year to be eligible for in-state. Any documents that can help show that you lived in that state continuously and paid taxes will be helpful. Below are some of the common documents that you can typically submit

Arrival in State Proof Documents

  • Flight Tickets of your Arrival in State ( if you came on flight)
  • Credit Card statements
  • Bank Statements
  • Offer Letter from Company, if you are joining a company

Continuous Residency & Presence Proof Documents

  • Credit Card Statements with transactions made in the state
  • Pay Stubs from your company
  • Rental Agreement
  • Utility Bills on your name
  • Letters from your employer certifying that you live and work in state

Other proofs that may be used

  • State ID
  • Driving License Issued by State
  • W2 Tax forms
  • Car Registration (optional)

All of these are to verify that you meet the residency requirement. 

Read this article  : H4 Visa Study MS/ MBA in US: In-state Tuition and other advantages?.  The best way to check is to email or call any of the state schools that you plan to study in and ask them the residency requirements for in-state tuition, they will ask you some details or ask you to fill out a form and they will tell based on that. Again, you need to check with the school to ensure you qualify, you cannot assume this as it all varies by state.

In-State tuition Eligibility for F1 students

In general, F1 visa students are considered full time international students and do not qualify for in-state fee, unless they have some sort of funding like Teaching Assistantship(TA), Research Assistantship(RA), Graduate Assistantship (GA), or something similar that comes with in-state funding option.

Even though from residency standpoint, the international student is living in the state and doing some sort of part time job on campus, they do not qualify for it. Usually, the States only consider full time working visa holders like H1B, L1 and their dependents only for the in-state tuition fee as they pay full and sizeable taxes.

Also, to qualify for in-state tuition as F1 student, you need to have certain amount of funding like 0.5 FTE (  i.e., 50% of full time employment, which is 20 hrs a week) for TA, GA or RA. In some cases, some schools give full tuition waiver for TA, GA or RA and also pay some money on top of that as stipend. So, it varies by school.

Another way an F1 student may get in-state tuition fee is by scholarships or any grants. Some of the state funded grants and scholarships would give you in-state tuition. You should check with the financial aid office in the school to check the same. You can read How to apply for scholarships for MS in US schools.

 It is important for anyone to talk to your professor and financial aid office to understand all the funding options for F1 students and plan for the same.

What was your experience with in-state tuition fee ? Share your thoughts.

   

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Comments ( 251 )

  1. Kasturi R

    Hi,
    I am currently on an H4 visa. Am I eligible for in state tuition fees ? If yes please let me know the procedure to avail in state tuition fees ?

    1. Sergey

      Kumar is right, and the admission center of the school should be able to provide that info.
      Also, this might be helpful:

      Best regards, and Good Luck!

  2. Harvinder

    I am getting an opprutunity in USA from my existing company and will be moving on L1 visa. I have an 18 year old son and 9 year old daughther.

    I need help to undestand on education for my children. As my son need to be enrolled in undergradute degree and daughther into elementry school.

    Hi Kumar
    I am getting an opprutunity in USA from my existing company and will be moving on L1 visa. I have an 18 year old son and 9 year old daughther

    Can you please advise that on L1 Visa will I have fund the education of my children or it will be subsidised by Govt as they do for thier other residents. My concerns are with my son who need to go to university and within 3 years when he will 21, he might have to move some different Visa status.

    Hence if someone have gone through same situation or can guide me to on how to manage above situation, that will really appreciated

    Thanks alot

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Harvinder,
      Yes, you will have to fund it. There is no subsidy concept, you can get scholarship. The In-state tuition only comes in after you live there for a year and is in State school.
      Yes, I highly recommend him to go with F1 visa, so that he does not face future issues at 21 to complete his studies. Discuss with an attorney too. This is something called Age out situation…check on google too.

  3. deep

    I’m a F1 Student working on My OPT, Does my wife falls under In-state tution fee in the Same State where I was living ?
    Note: I don’t have H1B

  4. Dhanya Narayanan

    Hello,
    I am on H1B and is expiring next year. I have applied for H4 under my husbands visa and is waiting for approval. I am working here for 6 years and now I have got admission in a University which is in a different state. Planning to study on H4. Would I be still eligible for the in-state tuition?
    Thanks & Regards,
    Dhanya

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Dhanya,
      The in-state is dependent on the state you live and their policies. If different state, you would not be eligible as it is a state benefit for tax payers in state..You can check with the school as well…

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Usually, the residency applies for Spouse and Kids or the actual person paying taxes…I am not sure, if you would get that just based on sponsor. You may double check with the school you plan to apply to be sure, if any new rules have come up.

  5. Taisha

    Hey!
    Very informative article! So my mother have live in Florida for 3years but is not a resident. I am on F1 status. I am a dependent on my parents ofc. Will I be eligible if I apply to college as in state for tuition purpose? Will it affect my F1 status?

  6. Ryan

    Hi there,

    I was working as a postdoc research assistant over 3 years in the school and will work in the industry holding the H1b visa, could I apply for the in-state tuition if I want to have a part-time degree since I paid the state tax as a J1 visa holder for the past 4 years?

    Thanks!
    Ryan

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Ryan,
      Everything varies by state and school, also, I am not regarding working on J1, I suggest you check with the school you plan to apply to get that clarified.

  7. manish

    Hii …i have studied in texas for 2 years in community college and now i am on Opt .Is it possible for me to get instate tuiton fee on university after i have lived and worked here in texas?

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Manish,
      You need to check with the school you plan to apply for on the eligibility as rules vary by state. For instance, if you check one of the schools website, they say that you need to contact Residency officer to find out if you would be eligible.

  8. Arun Minnasandran

    This article is very informative. I have a similar case. I have lived in Georgia for more than a year. My daughter is doing engineering in India and is planning on transferring to a college in GA. We all have EADs and awaiting the GC. Is she eligible for instate tuition. I guess for the first year she may not be but for the subsequent year would she be eligible for Instate if she can establish residency in GA.

    Thanks

  9. Sergey

    Hi Kumar,

    I came across to the situation here:

    I had an H1B visa since October 2014, and expiring July 31, 2017. I applied for renewal sometime in May 2017. I received only the letter of Receipt Notice, and nothing else. I applied for summer classes in Houston, Texas which started before H1B expired, and I was able to pay in-state tuition. Then I applied for fall, and the school is refusing to honor the in-state tuition because I am still in pending status, and haven’t received any answer from immigration. The prediction of my attorney to receive the final letter of approval/denial is November. School admission officer said if you pay the full out of state amount, and even if you bring the approval letter in November the tuition for fall is not going to be refunded.

    To my understanding, while on pending renewal process of H1B the petitioner is able to work for the same employer, and is required to keep on paying the same taxes, but is not able to qualify for in-state tuition? Am I missing something or maybe bigger picture here, on why they are not letting me pay in-state tuition?

    Please advise regarding H1B renewal rights if there are any, or loopholes to push on the school.

    Thank you in advance.

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Sergey,
      It is a grey area, I am not sure if there is a rule as such that you cannot get in-state when pending status. I had similar situation with Driving License, where they did not give me new DL, Read DL Expired H1B situation , though there is no rule written, it is up to the organization…You can check with your immigration attorney to find there are any legal clauses, I am not sure.

      1. Nik

        I am on h1b and my wife is on F1 we got married in US and I have been paying state tax for couple of years now, can my wife be eligible for in state tuition fees as she is a dependent and I am a resident for tax purposes

        1. administrator
          Kumar

          Nik,
          Only, if she moves to H4 visa. Usually, many of these things vary by state, so you should check with the University that you plan to attend.

  10. Sergey

    Hi Kumar,

    I came across to the situation here:

    I had a H1B visa expiring July 31, 2017, and applied for renewal sometime in May, 2017. I received only the letter of Receipt Notice, and nothing else. I applied for a summer classes in Houston, Texas which started before H1B expired, and I was able to pay in-state tuition. Then I applied for fall, and the school is refusing to honor the in-state tuition because I am still on pending status, and haven’t received any answer from immigration. The prediction of my attorney to receive the final letter of approval/denial is November.

    Please advise

  11. Filippo

    Hello,

    I’m changing status from H-4 to F-1 for this incoming semester. Until now, I have been granted in-state tuition because of my parents living here. Here is my question, once I change visa to F-1, will I still be eligible for in-state tuition ? My parents take care of my education, and are currently living in the States.

    Thank you

  12. Pratap

    I am not sure if this is entirely true. I am on H1B visa and presently living in NJ. My children are on H4 visa. With multiple sources I came to know that students on H4 visa are required to pay Out-of-state tuition fee as they are not considered as permanent resident, even though they are advanced stage of obtaining GC (I-140 approved for many years). Please refer to link below for more details
    http://forum.freeadvice.com/education-law-47/residency-status-college-tuition-558277.html

  13. Arsal

    If a person works FT in a state for 12 months on F1 OPT and then gets H1B, will they immediately be able to get in-state tuition? Or will they have to complete 1 year on H1B first?

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Arsal,
      Well, usually working on F1 status may not get you that benefit of in-state as the taxes you pay would be less. I suggest you check with the school in the state you plan to study.

  14. Rahul

    Hi Kumar,

    If you can answer my 2 questions it will be very helpful.

    First I will tell u about my visa status : I am on H1B with approved I140 case and living in NYC for more than a year. So here are my questions below on behalf of my wife.:-

    1) Can my wife come to usa on f1 visa for MS and be eligible for instate tution fees.?
    2) if not, can she be enrolled in school for MS on H4 visa and work anywhere part time outside campus or in campus (like taking, ra or garden jobs) since my i140 is approved….because I read somewhere that students on H4 visa are not allowed to work as a ga or ra or ta and also not allowed to take opt and cpt…since my i140 is approved I really don’t need to have opt or cpt right….

    It would be really helpful if u can answer my question

  15. Rahul

    Hi Kumar,

    If you can answer my 2 questions it will be very helpful.

    First I will tell u about my visa status : I am on H1B with approved I140 case and living in NYC for more than a year. So here are my questions below on behalf of my wife.:-

    1) Can my wife come to usa on f1 visa for MS and be eligible for instate tution fees.?
    2) if not, can she be enrolled in school for MS on H4 visa and work anywhere part time outside campus or in campus (like taking, ra or garden jobs) since my i140 is approved….because I read somewhere that students on H4 visa are not allowed to work as a ga or ra or ta and also not allowed to take opt and cpt…since my i140 is approved I really don’t need to have opt or cpt right….

    It would be really helpful if u can answer my question

  16. Jessica

    Hi~good article here! I’m wondering if i can get in-state tuition fee in PA, i have studied in PA for almost 6 years and i have a part time job (20 HR/week), can i get in-state tuition fee?
    Thank you~

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Jessica,
      Well, if you are a US Citizen ( Not on F1 visa) and lived in the state and paid taxes, you may be eligible. I am not sure, how the part time thing works. I suggest you speak to any State University in this regard, they will advise you the best.

  17. Julia

    Hey, great article here! I wonder if you know if F1 students on OPT (I worked as a student and transferred into a full-time position, have been working for a year already and live in this state for three years) can qualify for in-state tuition?

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Julia,
      Well, if you are on F1 visa, you may not be eligible, unless you get some sort of funding from school. You can check with the school you plan to apply to double check.

  18. Uma

    Hi all,

    I have applied for H4 extension.I received my receipt notice in feb 2016 and not yet received the approval notice. I got admitted in University of north Carolina. Will I be eligible for instate tuition fee? I have stayed in NC for more than an year now.

    TIA
    Thanks

  19. Isabel

    I am currently going to school in Florida from NY. My parents still support me but I do have a job here in Florida to have extra spending money. I really needed a license (obviously because there is no way to travel without it) and I got one today. I DONT want to be a florida residence and im worried that I’ll be considered one with this id. Is this the case?

  20. Marco

    I live in Colorado. I have been her for more than a year. I am currently on an F-1 Visa. But i also have TPS (Temporary Protected Status) and employment authorization card. I have worked here for more than a year,
    Will i be eligible to get in state tution fee?

  21. Jake

    Great article, thanks for sharing information.

    If I’m an international student F1, and I got married to a U.S. Women, will I get an in-state tuition?

    Thanks,

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Jake,
      If you are on F1, you will not be eligible, unless you get some sort of funding like TA, RA or GA. You will need to have other visa status, if you get Green Card, and maybe live in the same state for one month, you may be eligible. I suggest you speak to the school you plan to apply for better clarity.

  22. H4toF1COS

    Hi,

    I am on H4 visa and I paid in-state tuition fees for the last term. I have applied for F1 COS. If it gets approved, will I still be eligible to pay in-state tuition fees as we have been paying taxes for the last 4 years?

    Thanks!

    1. administrator
      Saurabh

      H4toF1COS,

      AFAIK, you have to pay international fees on F-1. You can’t have it both ways.

      Think about it, someone enrolls in MS program from India on F-1. After 1 year, they can claim domicile and ask for in-state tuition. That will not fly.

      1. H4toF1COS

        Hi Saurabh, thanks for the reply. I agree on your point but I was wondering if there would be any chance since F1 students do not pay tax.

  23. Arun

    Very good website.

    I have one question. I am staying in texas since may 2015 but I got my state id card and DL in Dec 2015 . The university rules for in-state fees is for state residents who complete more than 1 year in texas. .Considering that how many months they will consider for me if they ask my state ID proof. Will they calculate from May 2015 or dec 2015. I am paying taxes since may2015 and I am on H1.

    Help and advice needed

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Arun,
      It has nothing to do with the DL or state ID, if you can show proof to them that you are working and paying taxes from May 2015 and on H1, that should help you with the in-state.

  24. Arun

    Hi I am currently in H1 working in Texas. I am paying taxes from past 13 months. My wife is joining me next month with H4.

    Can she study in US with in-state fees ? Or she needs to complete 1 year to be eligible for in-state fees? Please help.

    Thanks

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