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The Out-of-State Expense

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For the 2022-2023 academic school year, UCI enrolled a total of 5,194 freshmen. According to the UCI Office of Academic Planning and Institutional Research, 511 of the 5,194 freshmen enrolled are out-of-state students. The entire UCI student body, which is composed of a total of 35,936 students, contains 3,214 out-of-state students

First-year computer science student Andrew Ly spoke about his time at UCI thus far, as well as how being an out-of-state student has influenced his college experience. 

“It [was] kind of my parents’ dream for me to come to California,” Ly said. “[UCI] was the best school I got into. Honestly, I just want to make my parents happy.”

Ly, a Texas native, moved to California in August of this year, along with his parents. 

“[Moving] was pretty tough,” Ly said. “I thought school started a month earlier, like over in Texas, so I moved here in August. I had to live alone in my house with no friends, so I was very lonely. When you see all your friends experiencing [college without you], it’s hard.”

While many out-of-state students will continue to pay out-of-state tuition for all their years enrolled at UCI, some families have found ways to qualify for in-state tuition — such as Ly’s family, who moved their permanent location of residence to California. 

“My parents make less money here than they did [in Texas], so I [try] not to go out and just eat at the Anteatery,” Ly said. “I try not to spend anything extra [than what is] needed. Next year, I’ll [qualify] for in-state tuition, so that will help.”

Generally, out-of-state tuition costs in the U.S. are between double and triple of in-state costs. This is a result of states trying to make up for tax dollars that have not yet been paid for by families that come from other states. 

First-year undeclared student Cheri Chu, originally from New York, discussed how her family prepared to help fund her tuition. 

“I didn’t have a pre-existing college fund to help pay for my tuition,” Chu said. “Once I visited California [during] my freshman year of high school, I knew I was ready for a completely new environment. My parents started to save money a few years before [I] began [college] applications.” 

Over the past 20 years, out-of-state tuition at UCI has nearly tripled in cost, totalling $41,196 for 2021-2022. For the same school year, the average cost of in-state tuition at UCI was $11,442.

The New University also spoke with second-year undeclared student Spencer Ferguson, who is originally from Nevada, about how tuition costs influenced his attitude toward college.

“It’s incredibly stressful, just because it’s so expensive — there’s this huge pressure to succeed,” Ferguson said. “Obviously, you [don’t] want to fail any classes, but it’s different when you’re paying $15,000 to fail a class. It wasn’t until recently that I stopped feeling a lot of guilt over choosing the expensive school.”

In a 2022 article from College Tuition Compare, UCI ranks fourth most expensive out of the 11 UC campuses. With growing university costs in the U.S., the UC system has projected 2023-2024 fees to cost around $73,626 for non-Californian residents living on campus.

“I did pass up a very easy opportunity to get free college in my state school, so sometimes I contend with that,” Ferguson said. “In the immediate sense, no, [there aren’t financial burdens], but I do have a bunch of loans I’ll have to pay off once I graduate. That’s kind of impending.”

As of July 2022, the nation’s student loan debt amounts to around $1.75 trillion, with Ferguson being one of 48 million borrowers in the U.S. 

“There were others [universities] in consideration,  certainly cheaper ones,  but my parents also encouraged me to go to the best school possible,” Ferguson said.

Despite UCI providing a variety of different scholarship opportunities, two-thirds of Distinguished Scholarships provided by the school are reserved for residents of California, leaving fewer opportunities for out-of-state students to earn grants through the university.

“I did get a few [scholarships],” Ferguson said. “Nothing substantial, a couple thousand dollars, which is a drop in the bucket, but anything helps.”

To avoid out-of-state costs, some students, such as fourth-year biological sciences student Anthony Do, relocated to California.

“[I moved here] my freshman year of high school,” Do said. “I already knew at an early age [that] I would not go to college in North Dakota. You get stuck [in North Dakota] — everyone stays there because of their friends and families. I knew that’s not what I wanted because I was the only Asian student there, [so] I moved out of state.”

Do spoke further about how his decision to move to California had influences on his social life. 

“I never felt like I fit in [in North Dakota] because I wasn’t white enough,” Do said. “Moving to California, I wasn’t Asian enough because I was so ‘whitewashed’ and used to being around white people. It’s hard to [shake] the mentality of [feeling like] I don’t fit in or am Asian enough.”

Regardless of whether students are out-of-state residents or not, the college experience is unique to each individual. Ferguson shared his advice for prospective out-of-state UCI students.

“To make out-of-state worth it, you’ll definitely want to know what you want going into it and formulate your plan around that,” Ferguson said. “I came in undeclared, and it’s a real struggle. Just try to make sure you know what you want and you know how to get it.”

More information regarding out-of-state admissions at UCI can be found at the Office of Undergraduate Admissions website


Andie San Luis is a Campus News Intern for the fall 2022 quarter. She can be reached at asanlui1@uci.edu.