The Secret to Saving $80K on College Tuition

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The trick, which is probably much easier than getting a scholarship, is convincing someone to marry you.

Specifically, you must be attending a public university, and that someone you marry must be a resident of that state. Why? The spouse of a state resident immediately qualifies for the in-state tuition discount, which can save a student tens of thousands of dollars in the course of earning a degree.

The NY Times’ Bay Citizen explains how the scenario plays out in California, where in-state students pay $22,000 less each year than non-Californians:

U.C. students from out of state must meet three requirements to establish residency — physical presence, intent to stay and financial independence — a complicated process that takes at least two years. The independence test is the hardest to pass.

When students marry, they can automatically claim themselves as independent, provided their parents do not claim them as dependents on their taxes. After that, gaining in-state tuition is a breeze.

It’s hard to say how many students marry friends with tuition benefits, but the Bay Citizen wrangled up nine couples who admitted to doing so—and who have paid roughly $350K less in total on tuition had they been considered out-of-staters.

College by the Numbers
A Full Year of College for $999?