Looking for Low Cost OOS Schools

this is my second thread and I’m pretty new so. Anyways, fact of the matter is that I am a Nevada resident and there’s no good schools for engineering out here in Nevada(University of Reno is probably the “most decent” engineering school you’ll probably see in Nevada). My family makes under 50k yearly and it looks like they can’t really afford college since my older sibling is going to college the following year.(I’m a rising junior as of now). What options are there out of state for me? I haven’t took standardized tests yet, however but I will be in my junior year, so that’s covered. My main question is are there any schools(preferably West Coast) that have low OOS cost/tutition with decent engineering programs? I’m looking into electrical engineering, btw.
Thanks in advance :relaxed:

Please remember that the California publics-the UC’s and CSU’s do not provide funding for non-residents. The UC’s are $65K per year; the CSU’s will run about $42K.

There are privates that are expensive but may have funding. With Covid, the schools will be cautious about their funds.
Start checking the websites of individual California privates.
You may want to also check out ASU.

In your situation, it’s essential to have a safety school. It’s great to have several safety schools. If you don’t have those choices, you are at high risk to NOT be in any engineering program at all, going to a local/ community college and then applying to an engineering program.

With so many schools going virtual now, that option might open up a number of doors for you. But that is now and who knows how things will be by the time you go to college.

You should look for all of the lowest cost state options with engineering programs. Those are your best bets for a guaranteed low sticker price. You didn’t give out your grades, the courses you have taken and are on track to Take in high school. You don’t have SAT or ACT scores yet, so it’s hard to see where you are a strong candidate. But getting into your state schools’ program is a strong first step. Engineering programs tend to be standard in the material covered, so if a school is ABET accredited, you should be fine.

You should be getting a good grasp on what your family can pay. Run the financials through the FAFSA estimators and see what they give you. Can you get to an auto zero EFC? What state money and programs are available ? OOS schools will not be giving you money unless you are a top candidate and you don’t know where you stand in that department yet. If you are planning to go away to school, it’s an expensive endeavor. Affordability is going to be an issue for you.

If you get great grades in the tough courses, get high test scores, do start thinking about schools where admissions is a factor, that have merit money and/or give out excellent financial aid. Once you have some sure things on your list, you can branch out your search for those colleges. Make sure you get your applications into your state schools and other safeties early because engineering programs tend to fill up fast.

Have you taken any practice tests yet? If you can make NMF you can open up a lot of merit money.

What is you GPA? Course rigor? Class rank?

If you are near the top of your class, run the NPC for U of Michigan. Super engineering program and they give need based aid. Just very competitive for admission. (You will need to be flexible on location if you are needing a lot of aid).

That said, Reno is abet accredited for engineering. You will be well prepared for your career, so if you work hard as an undergrad, you will have job offers. The US still doesn’t graduate enough engineers.

@Sp00kyAction We recently received a similar question and wrote this article to cover the topic in depth. You can read more at this link to have a overall understanding: https://insights.collegeconfidential.com/how-to-pay-for-college

@Sp00kyAction As a Nevada resident, you can take advantage of WUE (Western Undergraduate Exchange) that offers reduced tuition to residents of western states. Not all schools are covered, and not all majors, and monies are limited in some cases so applying early is helpful. Here is a list


If you are a strong student with good test scores and/or National Merit qualifying, some of your best and lower cost western state options would be U of Ariz, ASU, UNM, or Wyoming, perhaps CSU or WSU.

If you end up qualifying for NMF and are willing to consider southern schools: Alabama (Tuscaloosa or Huntsville), U of Mississippi, and the public universities in Florida (google Benaquisto).

Note that economic shortfalls due to COVID may change the availability of merit awards so it would be advisable to check college sites periodically to see if anything changes over time. Best of luck to you.

Thank you for all of your helpful replies. In case you’re wondering about my coursework and grades, I have received all A’s so far in the following academic courses: Geometry H, English 9 H, Biology H, Chemistry H, APHuG, APWH Modern, Alg 2 H, English 10 H. On my PSAT which I took during my sophomore year I got a 1340 without any study before. I believe 1400+is a qualifying score for NM? I am also in 2nd in class rank out of 605.

Use FAFSA4caster to get a sense of how much federal aid you may qualify for.


Having a sibling attending college at the same time, could be a financial bonus, as it makes you (and your sibling) qualify for more financial aid.

There is nothing wrong with attending a junior college for two years and then transferring into an engineering program. A LOT of engineers take this route. It will go a long ways to reducing your debt (student loans).

As others have said, look for out of state schools that would offer merit aid.

For example, the University of South Florida (USF) has a solid engineering program, and offers excellent merit aid.


For example:
USF Green & Gold Presidential Award
$48,000 (up to $12,000 per year)

3.90+ GPA and 1340+ SAT (Evidence-Based Reading/Writing and Math) or 29+ ACT

USF has other scholarships that stack with the presidential awards (see the link).

Out of State Tuition is $17K a year. Pell Grant, loans, some help from your parents, and perhaps a part-time job on campus should cover your cost.

You can find several other schools that offer similar aid.

Good Luck!

Utah and ASU are two of the best options for merit seekers in the region. But with such a low family income you should also run the NPC for top private schools that offer strong need-based aid.

I wouldn’t rule out in-state options. Sure, UNR and UNLV may not be nationally renowned engineering powerhouses, but that’s not really the primary factor here. In other words, who cares if they don’t have the brand power of MIT? They are both perfectly competent engineering programs.

Example: I worked previously at Los Alamos National Laboratory. I had multiple coworkers from UNLV working side by side with my coworkers from Berkeley and MIT and Michigan and other similar name brands.

Go to the school you can afford.

Hi–You may also want to consider–

  • Lafayette ($6K for lowest income bracket on average)
  • Lehigh--$13K-$14K
  • U of Maine at Orono--matching in-state tuition and ABET-accredited engineering
  • U Alabama at Huntsville -- automatic tuition benefit
  • Wake Forest -- $6K lowest income bracket on average
  • Vanderbilt -- $3K-$6K for lowest income bracket
  • Union College in Schenectady -- $14K for lowest income bracket
  • Swarthmore -- $5K-$8K for lowest income level

Use COLLEGE NAVIGATOR to find your families income bracket and on-average cost for each school. Then use the Net Price Calculator once you’ve narrowed down schools

Do your research about Financial Aid / FAFSA. When my kids were in college years ago, the amount family was expected to spend was spread across the number of dependents in college. Having several overlapping years with sibling in collete may actually be an advantage.

Your state flagship university is usually your best bet financially for engineering. For OSS, think about these relatively low cost (or good FA to offset costs for applicants with top scores/grades) options. Keep in mind that COVID-19 may impact private schools’ ability to offer FA)

Seattle University
U of Idaho
U of San Diego
South Dakota School of Mines & Technology
U of Minnesota-Twin Cities

if you’re willing to travel;
Mississippi State University
U of Alabama-Tuscaloosa
Texas Christian University
U of Rochester
SUNY New Paltz
Eastern Nazarene College
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Clarkson University
Rose-Hulman Institute

I second what @boneh3ad said. Don’t write off UNR or UNLV. My son graduated from Cal Poly (the original in SLO) with a BS/MS in ME. One of his best friends started at Poly, but for various reasons, went back home and finished at UNR. He has a great job.

I also like the WUE angle, but WUE can be competitive. The underrated programs that offer good value are Wyoming, Utah, Colorado State, SD School of Mines, Cal Poly Pomona and New Mexico Tech. Interestingly, for EE, Oregon State came up. They haven’t been a WUE school for engineering for some time, as they haven’t had to be to complete their enrollment without offering a discount. I’d certainly look there.

Engineering is very egalitarian. Don’t sweat it too much. Good luck!

University of San Diego is $70K per year and they fund a few students but you can’t rely on that. It is very competitive for scholarships, so I wouldn’t consider it a safety, and it is definitely not low cost.

Yes, their financial aid/merit aid is not particularly great. Their highest merit award is $25000. They have some additional small grants but nothing that would bring the coa within the realm of possibility for this OP. Also, not sure that their very new and small general engineering program is a good fit, anyway, especially if UNLV and UNR are not appealing.