In-state tuition and fees have soared over the past 10 years at many state colleges, some of which charge more than $17,000 a year for in-state students. Example: The University of Pittsburgh charged $17,772 for 2014–2015 (up from $10,130 for 2004–2005). Although state schools still charge less than most private schools, they are not the relative bargain they used to be.

Another problem: It is getting more difficult for in-state students to get into highly rated state schools that are ­reserving more slots for out-of-state and international students, who pay even more.

What to do: Consider state schools in other states that offer relatively low tuition rates to certain out-of-staters. Some offer in-state or discounted rates to residents of neighboring states or residents in another state who live within a certain number of miles of the school. Some belong to “regional exchange programs” that offer in-state rates or other low rates to residents of other states within the same US region. Example: The University of Wyoming’s tuition and fees for state residents still represent a bargain—totaling $4,891. Residents of 15 states across the western US can apply to attend Wyoming state schools at 150% of the in-state tuition rate, which comes to $6,676 when fees are included, compared with $11,396 at Washington State University for residents of Washington (one of those 15 states), for a savings a $4,720. Also, out-of-staters who have a parent who graduated from the University of Wyoming qualify for that 150% rate no matter where they live. A list of such programs is available at FinAid.org