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What is the cost of attending a large, out-of-state, public university? It depends.

Happy November! Can you believe the holidays are almost upon us? To avoid having to finish essays over Thanksgiving break, my 14 seniors have diligently worked to submit over 100 applications already. Most are finished with their apps entirely!


This year, several of my clients are interested in attending large, public, out-of-state universities. However, some of these schools have staggering annual price tags hovering around $80,000, which rivals the cost of the most selective private colleges. What is a family to do if they don’t qualify for need-based aid, but cannot pay $80K per year, per child? And what if the applicant only wants these types of schools on the list?


Thankfully, not all public universities, even in the highly selective category, are prohibitively expensive. Below, I have alphabetically listed eight flagship public universities which were most popular on my clients’ lists this year. A few schools are very pricey, but you’ll see a range of costs here.


Added bonus: each school awards merit scholarships based on GPA, course rigor, and sometimes test scores without consideration of financial need. These scholarships can be extremely competitive, especially for nonresident (out-of-state) applicants, and of course, the most competitive schools are less likely to award merit aid. However, in most cases, if you submit an Early Action application (no binding commitment), you will automatically be considered for merit scholarships.



1. University of Georgia (Athens)

Overall acceptance rate for students applying from out of state: 40%

Nonresident COA* (Cost of Attendance): $47,360

FAFSA required for merit consideration? No.

ACT/SAT scores required? Yes.


How to apply for merit scholarships:

Apply to UGA Early Action via the Common app by October 15. No separate application process required (all admitted students are automatically considered for merit scholarships).



2. Indiana University (Bloomington)

Overall acceptance rate for students applying from out of state: 80%

Nonresident COA: $51,907

FAFSA required for merit consideration? No.

ACT/SAT scores required? No.


How to apply for merit scholarships:

Apply to IU Early Action via the Common app by November 1. No separate application process required (all admitted students are automatically considered for merit scholarships).



3. University of Michigan: College of Literature, Science, and the Arts** (Ann Arbor)

Overall acceptance rate for students applying from out of state: 19%

Nonresident COA: $78,328

FAFSA required for merit consideration? No.

ACT/SAT scores required? No.


How to apply for merit scholarships:

Apply to UM LSA Early Action via the Common App by November 1. All students who have been admitted to UM LSA are invited to apply for merit scholarships starting in January 2023.


**note: scholarships are considered differently if you are applying directly to Ross School of Business, UM School of Nursing, or any other specific undergraduate school at UM.



4. University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill)

Overall acceptance rate for students applying from out of state: 8%

Nonresident COA: $51,167

FAFSA required for merit consideration? No.

ACT/SAT scores required? No.


How to apply for merit scholarships:

Apply to UNC Early Action via the Common App by Oct. 15.

No separate application process required (all admitted students are automatically considered for merit scholarships).



5. University of Texas (Austin)

Overall acceptance rate for students applying from out of state: 8%

Nonresident COA: $56,516

FAFSA required for merit consideration? No.

ACT/SAT scores required? No.


How to apply for merit scholarships:

Apply to UT via the Common App by November 1 (priority deadline).

No separate application process required (all admitted students are automatically considered for merit scholarships).



6. University of Virginia (Charlottesville)

Overall acceptance rate for students applying from out of state: 15%

Nonresident COA: $70,338

FAFSA required for merit consideration? Yes.

ACT/SAT scores required? No.


How to apply for merit scholarships:

The two significant UVA merit awards are the Jefferson and Walentas Scholarships. These require a process which is separate from the application to the college (a nomination from your high school is required, for example). https://www.jeffersonscholars.org/scholarship


The UVA Alumni Association also awards merit scholarships: https://alumni.virginia.edu/scholarships/



7. University of Washington (Seattle)

Overall acceptance rate for students applying from out of state: 50%

Nonresident COA: $57,093

FAFSA required for merit consideration? No.

ACT/SAT scores required? No.


How to apply for merit scholarships:

Apply to UW via the Common app by November 15. No separate application process required (all admitted students are automatically considered for merit scholarships).



8. University of Wisconsin (Madison)

Overall acceptance rate for students applying from out of state: 50%

Nonresident COA: $56,069

FAFSA required for merit consideration? No.

ACT/SAT scores required? No.


How to apply for merit scholarships:

Apply to U Wisconsin Early Action via the Common app by Nov. 1.

All early applicants are automatically considered, but to apply for department-specific scholarships, visit: https://wisc.academicworks.com/. Do not wait until you’ve been admitted; most scholarships are due in early February.



As you build your college list, I strongly encourage parents to have candid conversations with their kids about cost. It’s best to set expectations early. Also, the finalized college list should include several schools that are safeties, not only in terms of admissibility, but in affordability, as well. There are helpful resources out there, notably this one: https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/pay-for-college/college-costs. Feel free to reach out to me with your questions. Happy Holidays!!



*Cost of Attendance includes tuition, room and board, and all other expenses such as lab fees and books. It does not include personal expenses, such as plane tickets to and from school (which can really add up!).



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