Leaving the Buckeye State

Seniors attending college outside of Ohio

Applying for college can be one of the most stressful high school experiences. Many seniors have expressed their worries and stresses about the application process and the school they want to attend.  This is the moment that determines everything for seniors at Talawanda High School who are trying to decide which school to join. Only a few have considered the option of leaving the state.

Out of 120 seniors going to college last year, only 22 left the state for college. 5% to 18% of the Talawanda student population leave Ohio for college each year. This is estimated to be about 10-15 students who leave past the tri-state area and about 20 who remain in the tri-state.

One common reason students leave are simply to get out of Ohio. They want a fresh start and a change in scenery. Heather Ker, a 2013 graduate, said that she loves her experience at John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Arkansas has been beneficial. “I’m on my own, learning how to do things without my parents,” she said.


Talawanda senior Justin Brown said something similar. “Staying close to home can sometimes cripple a college student and make them dependent.” His plan is to attend Bethel College in Indiana to play soccer and major in communications.

Still, a majority of seniors remain in the state they live. Senior Sarah Starrett said she is remaining in Oxford, Ohio to attend Miami University. Starrett’s opinion on going out of state is one that others who remain in state have expressed.  “You get to see more places and live a little more. You might find something you really like or hate. Either way. Maybe you’re moving away too fast and you’re going to land on your butt,” she said.

For those who decide to leave the state, though,  there are several ways to accomplish this goal. Financial aid is available for these students by applying for the FASFA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Matt Smith, Talawanda High School counselor, suggested living in the state for a year. “There is a loophole if students want to save some money,” said Smith. “If you live there and go to a community college for an inexpensive cost for a year and gain residency, you can get in-state tuition for the college you want.”

According to FinAid.org, a guide offered for financial aid advice for those seeking help on scholarships and loans, students who have a parent that supports the child financially may attend the college the state is in which that parent lives as long as the parent holds custody. Independent students must live in the state for at least a year before the first day of classes. This idea also depends on the state, as some require two years as a resident and others have an age requirement.

State residency is determined by holding at least two government documents. These include, but are not restricted to: voter registration, federal taxes, or attending a secondary school. Other ways to help declare residency is through owning a library card, being employed, or applying for in-state drivers licence. Even a local bank account can help.  This works only for residents of the United States.

Even if a student has already applied to go out of state and been accepted, they can still apply the next year after creating residency. According to Smith, it is more than likely the student will be accepted again, this time with the ability to get in-state tuition.

Other scholarships are available, along with grants and student loans from the individual colleges. Scholarships are difficult to find for going out of state due to the fact that people who donate money for scholarships prefer money to stay in state. There are scholarships for traveling, such as the AFS scholarship that was offered this year.

When deciding which college to attend, there are multiple options and factors to consider. It’s not the number of classmates who leave, it’s personal goals and costs, along with the future of the student itself.  As senior Rebecca Helton said, “it’s a bit of an adventure.”