Tuition deals span Midwest

Approximately 2,500 students participate in a compact that makes out-of-state tuition cheaper.

Matt Graham

Many students know about the reciprocity agreements between Minnesota, Wisconsin and the Dakotas that allow nonresident students to attend other states’ public schools for resident rates.

But they may be surprised to learn about a program that has been in place since 1994 that allows students in the Midwest to more easily attend college in other area states.

The Midwestern Higher Education Compact , also known as the Midwestern Higher Education Commission, enables students in a member state to go to school in any other participating member state at 150 percent of the resident tuition rate, said Craig Swan, University vice provost for undergraduate education.

Jennifer Dahlquist, director of student initiatives for the compact, said the program’s primary purpose is to improve access for students and allow them to study fields that may not be offered at institutions in their home states.

Member states include Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio and Wisconsin. Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Ohio do not participate in the tuition reduction program.

Peter Zetterberg, director of institutional research and reporting, said the University participates in the compact because of a mandate from the state.

Dahlquist said each state runs the program differently. They can set admission requirements, place limits on the number of out-of-state students allowed and choose which schools will participate.

For example, Wisconsin, which will start admitting students as part of the program in fall 2006, might not extend the deal to its Madison campus, Dahlquist said.

Most of the colleges participating in the program are public schools, although some private schools in member states allow a 10 percent tuition reduction.

In cases where there is overlap between the compact and reciprocity, Swann said the reciprocity agreements, which offer cheaper tuition, take precedence.

Dahlquist said approximately 2,500 students from the Midwest participate in the compact. Last year approximately 135 students left Minnesota to attend institutions in other states, while about 400 came here from out of state.

Students who think they may be eligible for the compact can contact the admissions office for details, Dahlquist said.

The commission sends information to high schools to notify students of the benefits, but many have never heard of the program.

Junior computer engineering student D.J. Billingsley said he had heard of the program before, “but I never really knew what it was.”

Dahlquist said a revamped, interactive version of the compact’s Web site, www.mhec.org, will be up and running in the next several weeks and will allow students to view the program’s benefits.