The difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition
Public colleges and universities charge students an in-state tuition rate if they live in the same state as the school when they enroll and an out-of-state tuition rate if they live in a different state from the school when they enroll. In-state tuition is often a much lower rate than out-of-state tuition. And some schools offer the in-state tuition rate only if the student can prove they’ve lived in the state for at least 12 months before enrolling.
As a Veteran or dependent with transferred entitlement, you can get in-state tuition rates at many public schools even if you haven’t lived in the state where the school is located. Once classes start, you’ll need to be living in the same state.
Note: Under Section 702 of the Veterans Choice Act, public schools that have VA-approved programs will receive GI Bill payments only if they offer in-state tuition to eligible Veterans and dependents.
Eligibility for in-state tuition
You may be eligible for in-state tuition if you meet all of these requirements:
- You’re receiving benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty (MGIB-AD), or Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E), give
- You’re a “covered individual” (the next 2 sections explain what this means for Veterans, spouses, and children) give
- When you start school, you live in the state where the school is located
Eligibility requirements for Veterans
As a Veteran, you’re a “covered individual” if you’ve served on active duty for at least 90 days since September 10, 2001.
Note: Section 702 of the Veterans Choice Act covers you only after discharge, not while you’re still on active duty or while you’re a member of the Active Guard Reserve (AGR).
Eligibility requirements for spouses or children
As a spouse or child of a Veteran, you’re a “covered individual” if one of these is true:
- You’re using education benefits transferred from a Veteran, or
- You’re using benefits under the Fry Scholarship and the Veteran had served a period of active-duty service of at least 90 days before their death
Note: Starting August 1, 2022, if you’re using benefits through the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) program, you’ll be eligible for in-state tuition rates.
Keeping your status as a covered individual
You’ll keep your status as a covered individual as long as you stay enrolled at your school. You can take scheduled breaks between courses, semesters, or terms, but if you leave school and then enroll again, you won’t keep your status as a covered individual.
The residency requirements vary by state and school. In some states you may have to show your intent to become a legal resident. You may be asked to show that you’re in the process of claiming legal residency by registering to vote, getting a state ID, or getting a state driver’s license. In this case, you can get in-state tuition while you go through the process of claiming legal residency.
Depending on the state where your school is located, you’ll need to meet one of these requirements to be eligible for in-state tuition:
- You must live in the state where your school is located, or
- You must live in the state where your school is located and show intent to become a resident, or
- You must live in the state where your school is located, show intent to become a resident, and become a legal resident within a certain period of time
If your school charges you out-of-state tuition by mistake
If you qualify for in-state tuition rates but your school charges you out-of-state tuition rates by mistake, work with your School Certifying Official (SCO) to correct the error. Or you can submit a complaint by calling the GI Bill hotline at 888-442-4551. We’re here Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 7:00 pm ET.