Skip to Main Content

Reciprocity agreement

Have you heard of reciprocity agreements but aren’t sure how they work? Bankrate explains.

What is a reciprocity agreement?

In the context of public university education in the United States, reciprocity agreements are arrangements that make it possible for a student accepted by a state university to attend an out-of-state school at preferential rates. Four major regional reciprocity agreements account for the majority of reciprocity benefactors in the U.S.

Deeper definition

Tuition reciprocity agreements make attending certain out-of-state public institutions more affordable, but they are subject to a variety of conditions and limitations. There are three general types of reciprocity programs: state programs, regional programs, and neighboring state programs.

State programs are less common, and generally cover only two or three states. The regional programs cover broader areas of the U.S. and group together several states. Neighboring state programs generally cover counties near a state border, providing access to state universities located in the bordering state. For instance, if a student hails from northern Florida, then he or she has the privilege of attending some public universities in southern Georgia at a preferential rate.

The New England Regional Student Program (RSP) provides students from member states with a fixed annual discount on out-of-state tuition rates. The Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) covers public institutions in Arizona, Alaska, Colorado, California, Idaho, Hawaii, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, South Dakota, North Dakota, Utah, Wyoming, and Washington. The Midwest Student Exchange Program (MSEP) covers states in the Midwest, although South Dakota, Iowa, and Ohio have chosen not to take part in the MSEP.

Check out Bankrate’s student loan center for a wealth of information on getting the best rate possible.

Reciprocity agreement example

The New England RSP provides an average tuition break of $7,000 to full-time RSP students. Students must enroll in courses that have been approved by the RSP and be pursuing majors that are not available at the public universities in their home states. The Western Undergraduate Exchange allows a limited number of qualified students from selected states to pay 150 percent of in-state tuition in other member states. The Midwest’s MSEP makes it possible for residents from participating states to attend public institutions at a tuition rate less than 150 percent of the tuition rate paid by in-state students.


More From Bankrate