Schools try to reduce out-of-state tuition fees

By Matthew Richardson

Students who are interested in pursuing education outside of Illinois but staying in the Midwest may soon have a new option when it comes to saving money on tuition.

In December 2006, the Illinois Board of Higher Education made the decision to allow Illinois to participate in the Midwest Student Exchange Program. This program, which is a part of the Midwestern Higher Education Compact, allows students with residency in any of the participating states to attend school in those states at a reduced cost.

The other states currently in the program are Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and Wisconsin.

“We participate (in the Midwest Student Exchange Program) so that students can take other majors that may not necessarily be offered here, or vice versa,” said Christian Basi, associate director of the News Bureau of the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Over 125 public and private institutions participate in the program in addition to the flagship universities in Minnesota, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota and Missouri.

“There is a fair amount of people that have taken advantage of the program (at University of Missouri at Columbia),” Basi said.

Although the program potentially allows students to save thousands of dollars, some institutions put restrictions on the funds that students who participate in the program can receive from their respective institution. For instance, University of Missouri-Columbia has two scholarships for which students would not be eligible if they participate in the program. Also, students cannot apply for in-state residency while participating in the Midwest Student Exchange Program.

Specifically, the public schools that choose to enter into the Midwest Student Exchange Program agree not to charge more than 150 percent of the cost of in-state tuition to out-of-state tuition. Private schools offer a 10 percent discount on tuition, but only non-residents can receive the discount.

Because no college in Illinois currently offers the tuition reduction, there is no discount to students with Illinois residency attending college in states that participate in the program.

The University does not have plans to participate in the Midwest Student Exchange Program, said Stacey Kostell, director of admissions.