It’s no surprise to anyone that millennials are turning out to be a wanderlust generation; we constantly crave to explore the world around us, and many opportunities have been made available for us to do so, especially in college. Some of these opportunities, such as study abroad, are well-known. 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.
I first heard about the National Student during a college tour in my senior year of high school and was immediately intrigued by its possibilities. I had always dreamed of studying at an out-of-state school, but when it came time to choose a school, I chose to be more money-savvy and stay in-state. When I learned about this program, it seemed like it would be a great way to achieve that dream. Although I haven’t participated in it (yet), I have done a lot of research into the program with the hope to one day do it myself.
What is the National Student Exchange program?
Essentially, 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. Students can participate in the program multiple times, but the collective limit is two semesters and one summer. That 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. What’s even more awesome is that participants don’t have to just spend time in the United States. If you are fluent in French or Spanish, you can also spend time in places like Canada or Puerto Rico, which is an great opportunity to travel and study in a new place at a cheap price.
“Plan A” and “Plan B”
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 can 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.
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. Additionally, when participating in Plan A, the visiting student will be applying to receive financial aid from their host school, which may be different from the amount that they receive from their home school.
Plan B is the option where students 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 very 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.
Acceptance of Students
When preparing to exchange, students choose several schools that they are interested in exchanging with because they are not guaranteed to be accepted into their first choice; each school has its own criteria and it is 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 each March, in which the NSE coordinator at each school go and have their home school’s NSE students exchanged 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 (not as likely as the “open” plan, anyway), but there’s more of a chance than the “even” or “1:1”. Essentially, the number of students that the school will accept can be more than the number that it sends out (making it uneven), but it won’t continue to accept any qualified student; there’s a limit unique to each school. For example, a 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 go 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 in which plan you want to participate in 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 options for students to take advantage of.
Besides the opportunity to travel and study out-of-state, students can benefit from the program by being able to take classes that are 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 students. Students who participate in this program not only have the opportunity to travel and experience a different campus culture, but they can also find job or internship opportunities. If you are interested in seeing where I got this information from, or would like to research more into the program yourself, you can do so by clicking here.
Have you participated in the National Student Exchange program? Or maybe you have a question or comment? Leave a comment below and let me know. I’d love to hear from you!