In the world of higher education, invisible borders can become insurmountable financial barriers. Let’s say a student living in Columbus, MS is considering several four-year universities. One in-state option would be the University of Mississippi, roughly two hours away or Mississippi State University, more than three hours’ drive from home. Or, just an hour away in Tuscaloosa, AL, he or she could enroll in the University of Alabama. Because of a law enacted in Alabama, out-of-state residents, like someone living just across the border in Columbus, MS., could receive the same in-state tuition rate as an Alabama resident.
The same rules have not applied, however, to an Alabama resident wanting to enroll at a public university in Mississippi. For example, if someone from Tuscaloosa wanted to enroll at the Mississippi University for Women (which, despite its name, is co-educational) in Columbus, she or he would have to pay the out-of-state tuition rate. That’s more than twice Mississippi's in-state tuition rate.
House Bill 1095, signed into law by Gov. Phil Bryant, will level the playing field, allowing public universities in Mississippi to charge out-of-state students the same tuition paid by Mississippi residents. With full time tuition costing less than $5,500 per year, Mississippi can tout one of the least expensive higher education systems in the nation.