Bowles: Why MSMS students should stay in-state for college


Elena Eaton

Many favor choosing an in-state education, especially when considering major factors such as tuition costs, mental health and the future beyond college.

Luke Bowles, Managing Editor

At MSMS, there is an absolutely crazy aura surrounding the most prestigious colleges in the U.S. I routinely hear people talking about spending hundreds of dollars to apply to the Ivy League schools even if they know they won’t get aid. Many students I know have ruined their mental health from stressing about these applications and financial aid. I have felt this pressure daily when my friends and peers talk about college applications. 

But guess what? There is a very, very easy way to avoid this struggle: just stay in-state. 

Firstly, the in-state schools in Mississippi are not bad colleges whatsoever. For instance, both Ole Miss and Mississippi State are ranked as an “A-” by Niche, and the pair are ranked 77 and 105 in top public universities by US News, just behind schools like Oklahoma, Cincinnati and the University of Texas at Dallas. In fact, they are outstanding universities that continually produce successful graduates, several of which work for our school.

Secondly, and likely most importantly, is the cost factor. For instance, both Ole Miss and Mississippi State have in-state tuition costs of less than $9,000, some of the lowest costs in the country. On the flip side, private schools like Harvard, Stanford and MIT all have tuition costs of over $50,000 a year. Other public schools many MSMS students apply to like the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Michigan have tuition costs right at or above $40,000 a year for out of state students.

Doing the simple math, these costs equate to $36,000 over a four year span for in-state schools. However, over that same time span, the tuition costs for the out-of-state schools come out to be over $200,000. It is true that there are many middle-tier schools with slightly lower tuition and some good merit scholarships, but many of these scholarships are limited and only gifted to a very low percentage of applicants. Waiting to see if you received a scholarship or even got selected for the process often adds stress into a student’s life, including mine.

Sure, these schools do give very generous aid, but many students’ parents earn too much to allow them to afford these schools, meaning they would have to take out loans to attend. My family earns enough to be excluded from meaningful aid, but that does not mean they can actually afford to pay out-of-state or private tuition costs. Currently, there are almost two trillion dollars owed in student debt, and this debt can follow graduates for a long, long time. Keep in mind, many MSMS students plan to attend graduate school, adding even more to the cost, so this fact makes in-state schools even more attractive. 

Thirdly, MSMS students would be well-rewarded by staying in-state. Many MSMS students have exceptional grades and ACT scores and would receive significant scholarships by attending in-state universities. Students planning to attend colleges outside of Mississippi need to seriously ask themselves if a marginally to moderately better education is worth the additional costs. 

Fourth, several in-state universities have beautiful campuses and great weather. Ole Miss is even ranked 13 for “Best College Campuses” by Niche. Attending these schools would also allow many students to stay closer to their families to facilitate their coming of age experience and be closer in case of a family emergency.

Lastly, as Mississippians, we need to contribute to our state. The state legislature gives our school over $4 million a year, and I think the very least we could do is give back to our state. 

I know that Mississippi is not perfect, but every state has its flaws. Ultimately, our state needs educated people to fix it, and the first step is attending college here. Not only would it benefit you by lowering your cost, but it would also benefit the state itself.

Mississippi can be beautiful and amazing, but it needs our help to get there. Our state’s problems will never be fixed if all the solutions move away, and honestly, it doesn’t make sense to move away when it’s going to cost you $50,000 a year. I am very likely going to an in-state school, and I encourage you to spare your wallet and your mental health from the beating and come along too. You never know: you might just love it.