Strategies to Decrease the Cost of College #10 Expand Your “Circle of Safety”

Most colleges seek a geographically diverse incoming class. The reality – a majority of first-time freshman (approx. 60%) attend a college 100 miles from home. Understanding this dynamic and expanding your search area can yield significant cost savings. Why?

Let’s look at the University of Minnesota (UMTC):

  • Fall 2017 it received 43,000+ applications
  • The overall admit rate is 50% – it’s more selective than many realize
  • Average ACT score = 28
  • Average GPA = 3.71
  • Cost of Attendance (COA) 2018-2019 = $28,106
  • They offer merit scholarships to < 25% of incoming freshman

Compared to the University of Alabama at Huntsville (UAH):

  • Fall 2017 it received 4,454 applications
  • The overall admit rate is 81% – it’s not selective.
  • Average ACT score = 28
  • Average GPA = 3.79
  • Cost of Attendance Out of State (COA) 2018-2019 = $38,788
  • Merit Scholarships = Automatic:
UAH 2018-2019 Merit Tuition Scholarship Chart

At UAH a 30 ACT and 3.50 GPA nets you a four-year renewable full-tuition scholarship as a resident or non-resident student (a $21,378 annual savings for non-resident students). These same credentials are unlikely to earn a merit scholarship at the UMTC, in many cases making UAH the less expensive option. What about academics? The University of Alabama – Huntsville more than holds its own

The objective is not to pick on the University of Minnesota – it is an excellent academic institution, merely to point out an instance when expanding your “Circle of Safety” can save on the cost of a college education.

Given the enrollment habits of students, many institutions have as many students from their home region as they want or can enroll. Thus, in certain instances expanding your circle of safety and looking for a college beyond a 100-mile radius from home, which fits your needs academically, socially, and financially may produce significant cost savings.


  • The nationally recognized Cyber Security program at Dakota State University (reciprocity tuition rates for MN residents)
  • The Degree in 3 Program at Ball State University
  • Rhodes College – A “College That Change Lives” school which enrolled zero students from MN in their Fall 2018 incoming class
  • Truman State University (considered a “Public Ivy”) – Midwest Student Exchange Tuition eligible for MN residents

You have more choices than you think!