When it comes to attending college, many students look out-of-state, seeking both opportunities that aren’t available to them at home and the adventure of a new place. Some of these opportunities–such as study abroad–are quite common. However, there are other opportunities that are not as well-known, but are equally as unique and interesting. One of these opportunities is the National Student Exchange Program, which allows qualifying college students to study at out-of-state schools for the in-state price.
What is the National Student Exchange Program?
The National Student Exchange Program (NSE) is an association of schools that will allow their students to be a student at another NSE school, generally for the in-state price, for a temporary amount of time. This makes it a great opportunity to not only experience a different college, but a different part of the country…or even a different country! Yep, if you’re fluent in French, you can even attend one of the NSE schools in Canada. No matter what you choose, participating in the NSE program is a great opportunity to both travel and study in a new place at a cheap price.
Even better, students can participate in the program multiple times! However, the collective limit is two semesters and one summer. This means that participates can spend all their time at one NSE school, or they can travel across the country and spend time at multiple schools.
“Plan A” and “Plan B” Tuition Plans
What makes this program so unique is it’s cost, which is unique to each and every student that participates.
To determine the specific cost of tuition, students will choose to participate in either a “Plan A” or “Plan B” exchange; some schools only participate in a certain plan or will have certain criteria or limitations for students with each plan.
The “Plan A” Tuition Plan
Plan A means that the student will pay in-state tuition to their “host” school (the school that the student is visiting). This plan can be very beneficial if the host campus’ tuition is cheaper than the tuition they pay at their home school. However, when participating in Plan A, the exchange student will be also apply to receive financial aid from their host school; this means that their financial aid package from their host school can be different from what they receive from their home school.
The “Plan B” Tuition Plan
Plan B means that the student will continue paying tuition to their home school, whether that be in-state or out-of-state tuition, while attending the different school.
This plan can be beneficial if:
- Their home tuition is cheaper than their host school tuition.
- They have scholarships at their home school that they can continue to use.
- They receive more financial aid from their home school.
How Does the Exchange Program Work?
When preparing to exchange, students select several schools that they are interested in exchanging with, as they are not guaranteed to be accepted into their 1st choice exchange school; each school has its own criteria over it’s exchanging students, and it’s up to their discretion to accept or deny any student that applies for exchange at their school.
The main exchange of students takes place during a conference in March, in which the NSE coordinator from each school will go and organize exchanging the NSE applicants to other schools.
An “open” school is the easiest for students to be accepted to. As long as you meet their requirements (which usually consists of a certain GPA and/or similar conditions), then you will be accepted for exchange.
An “uneven” school means that students aren’t guaranteed to be exchanged at that school, but there’s more of a chance than the “even” or “1:1” schools. Essentially, the school can choose to accept more exchange students that it sends out (hence being “uneven”), but it won’t continue to accept any and every qualified student that wants to be an exchange student there; there’s a limit unique to each school.
For example, an “uneven” school may send out five students, but will only accept up to eight students to come in.
An “even” school is a bit more difficult to be accepted to. Basically, the number of students coming in for exchange will be even to the number of students of students going out. So if that school is only sending out two students for exchange, than they will only accept two students to come in.
A “1:1” school is the most difficult to be accepted to. To go to that school for exchange, there must be a student from that school coming to your school for exchange, and in turn you can go to their school. A “1:1” is basically a perfect swap of students.
The plan that students choose to participate in the exchange with (Plan A or B) can then affect their likelihood of exchanging with a particular school. For example, if you wanted to participate in the exchange with Plan A and you were interested in going to California State University–Northridge, you’d have no problem getting in (as long as you meet their criteria) because they are an open school for Plan A students. However, if you wanted to got to that same school as a Plan B student, it’d be much harder (and more unlikely) to get to go because it’s a 1:1 Even exchange. So depending on which school you want to go to and what their plans and acceptance types are, you may need to be more flexible on whether you want to be a “Plan A” or “Plan B” student, if you want a better chance of getting in.
Additional Exchange Options
Some colleges have additional exchange options that are available to their incoming NSE students. For example, there is an Honors Exchange option, which allows visiting NSE students to participate in their host school’s honors program. Additionally, there is also an RA exchange, so you could possibly participate as an RA. These options are not available at all NSE colleges, but they are some great additional opportunities for exchange students to take advantage of.
Other Benefits of the National Student Exchange Program
Besides the opportunity to travel and study out-of-state, students can benefit from the program by taking classes not offered at their home university, as well as participate in programs hosted by other universities. There are a lot of special programs that are offered; the full list can be found by clicking here.
The National Student Exchange program is an amazing, yet rarely discussed, opportunity for college students to study out-of state (especially if they do it for the in-state price!). Students who participate in this program not only have the opportunity to travel and experience a different campus culture, but they also have more access to networking, job, and internship opportunities.
If you’re interested in seeing where I got this information from or would like to do more research into the program, you can do so by clicking here.