The state of things for in-state students

Although going out of state for college is a general aspiration, staying in state comes with multiple advantages.

The state of things for in-state students

By Esther Babawande, Reporter

Planes, trains, or 12 hour drives will be transporting the class of 2016 to the colleges of their dreams, but for some that ride lasts only 20 minutes. For many seniors, staying in state for college next year is more beneficial than going out of state. Although going out of state for college is a general aspiration, in-state seniors are not alone in their decision.

More than 70 percent of students nationwide are currently attending institutions near home, according to a national study done by Sallie Mae and Ipsos, who surveyed 1,601 undergraduate students ages 18-24 and their parents.    

For Stefanie Anderson, Div. 650, staying in state was a matter of saving money.  Anderson will be attending the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), the school that gave her the most financial aid.  

Staying in-state saves students money, especially commuter students. According to the College Board, the average room and board costs for the 2013-2014 school year ranged from $9,498 for a public four-year in-state school, compared to $10,823 for a private nonprofit four-year school.

Staying at home and being a commuter student during college may seem counterintuitive to gaining independence as a young adult but for Nida Hameed, Div. 670, there is more to independence than getting as far away as possible from your parents.

“I feel everyone has this idea of a college experience and getting away from home and becoming independent; you know everyone wants that and I did, I also applied to schools out of state,” Hameed said. “I feel like people just want to leave home just so they can be more independent. Even if you are going to a school in-state you’re going outside of your house so you are getting that sense of independence.”  

Staying close to home comes with so many benefits. For Hameed, one benefit is having peace of mind, because her parents can reach her quickly in the case of emergencies at home. Hameed’s only family, other than the one in India, reside here in Chicago. Hameed said living in a great city with many job opportunities  and being where her family is where she wants to be. 

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Hameed, who will be commuting to Loyola University, this fall, is not the only commuter student who doesn’t see a problem in staying at home and driving to school.

For Jocelyn Gallegos, Div. 659, going to Lane has prepared her to commute to DePaul University. 

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“I’ve been driving to Lane since sophomore year and it’s about the same drive so I don’t really mind,” Gallegos said. Gallegos decided to stay near home because she didn’t want to miss any of the special moments that come with watching younger children grow up.  

“I have a niece and nephew who are growing up and I want to be there for everything,” Gallegos said.  Gallegos realized she didn’t want to leave Chicago, while she was visiting her original choice, Marquette with her parents. Gallegos went through a time of confusion on which college she should choose. Yet, the one closest to her family, and located in her favorite city, won her heart in the end.

“I thought meeting people from different parts of the country rather than just staying in Chicago {is where} I could learn a lot more, and that was inspired by being in Lane Tech with so many diverse people,” Gallegos said. “But, I just started falling in love with Chicago, and now that I have more time, I’m very excited to just explore the city.”  

For Chelsea Goddard, Div. 660, going to a new area outside of her home state was never an option because she didn’t want to face ‘the adjustment period’. The adjustment period is the time it takes students to ‘adjust’ to their new surroundings as freshman. Going to college in the area you grew up in eliminates the probability of having to adjust to your environment.

“I’ve lived my whole life here; it’s a familiar territory,” Goddard said. “College is an unfamiliar time and I won’t have to worry about being unfamiliar with where I am.” Goddard who plans to settle in Chicago as a world history teacher, credits her church and her father’s pastoral duty as her reason for staying in state.

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While Goddard wants to be an history teacher, Stanley Guan, Div. 660, is joining the Marines after college as a mechanical engineer.

For Guan, his parents and two sisters are the most important people in his life now. Both of his sisters are in-state students and live near home. Staying in-state allows him to be with them for as long as he can. Next year, Guan will be commuting to school and the military base, which is the most convenient option for him.

“[School] is really close to my house, it’s probably about 20 minutes by walking, so I was like ‘hey I don’t have to pay for dorm or anything,’” Guan said. “And they gave me a lot of money; other colleges that are out of state didn’t offer me as much, and I didn’t want to make my parents pay for me as much so let me go somewhere where they don’t have to pay.”

According to Forbes, staying near home is a major stress reliever. Some students will be working full time, participating in internships, taking classes, and partaking in other activities and will not have the time to clean their rooms, do laundry and make their meals. Having family nearby that will assist them through these stressful periods is a source of relief for students.  

Parents play a huge role in the final decision as well. Although Hameed made it clear to her parents that she was applying to out of state schools, in the back of her mind the fact that her parents wanted her near home stuck with her in the end.


Avoiding the mistakes of his siblings motivated Guan to avoid out-of-state schools that would leave him with piles of student loans that he’d have to pay back for the rest of his life.

“I have a responsibility to myself,” Guan said.  “My sister is still paying off her student loans and she’s 25 … I didn’t want to do something like that so I’d rather stay in state and pay a lot less money.”

Overall, family plays a role in many in-state students lives, no matter how minuscule, in the final decision of where they’ll go for college.  Yet, what plays the greatest role in the final decision is the love many of these in-state students have for their school and their city.

“I just don’t see myself in any other city but Chicago,” Gallegos said.