Going the Distance: How Far Should You Go for College?

College itself is a journey. But just how far should you travel (literally) to get there? According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, 86 percent of students attending a four-year college choose a school within 500 miles of their home, while 53 percent go to a school within 100 miles of home. So near or far what’s right for you? Before you decide, think realistically about how distance from home can impact your college experience.


You might have slightly better odds of being accepted at a public college close to home, since these schools typically give priority to state residents. But don’t feel limited by your out-of-state status if you want to look elsewhere. Most colleges, both public and private, want a geographically diverse student body, and therefore welcome and even seek out applicants from all 50 states.

Tuition Costs

Staying inside state lines is one way to make college more affordable, as long as you choose a public school where tuition is usually much lower for in-state students. Plus, many states have financial aid programs just for residents. That said, private schools across the country offer merit aid that can help make tuition every bit as affordable as an in-state public school. Likewise, merit aid and other scholarships at public universities can help offset the extra cost of out-of-state tuition.

Travel Expenses

The farther away from home you attend college, the more it will cost to travel home for holidays, semester breaks or a quick visit with mom and dad when you get homesick. Consider how often you’ll want to travel to and from school, and take that into account when you’re figuring out the financial end of your college education.


College will probably be your first real taste of independent living. For some students, being far from home only adds to that new-found sense of freedom. Completely new surroundings with few familiar faces inspire them to rely on themselves. On the other hand, some students prefer to test the waters of self-reliance at a school closer to home, where the support of family and friends is nearby if they need it.


There’s no doubt the transition from high school to college is a huge lifestyle adjustment If you attend a far-away college, you’ll also be adjusting to entirely new surroundings. The weather, regional mannerisms, even the local stores could be different. Many students thrive in a new environment and consider the opportunity to broaden their perspective on the world an important part of their college experience. But plenty of others find that staying put in the same geographic area adds a certain comfort level to the already unfamiliar surroundings of a college campus.

While you should weigh all the factors and think about whether you’d be happiest close to home or far away, the most important thing you can do in your college search is be open to all your options, and Cappex can help you find colleges that are right for you. You never know the perfect college for you might just be across town … or across the country!