Marrying for a green card? Nah, in-state tuition.

Grand Velas Riviera Maya via Flickr

It's not just for citizenship anymore

The New York Times reports that a number of desperate students at the University of California have gotten married solely to gain in-state tuition more quickly. By marrying, they become classified as "financially independent" from their parents -- a status that's key to gaining residency, but one that is hard to gain without marriage.

Before you keep reading ...

MPR News is made by Members. Gifts from individuals fuel the programs that you and your neighbors rely on. Donate today to power news, analysis, and community conversations for all.

In one case:

A few years ago, a student from the Midwest believed she could not afford the annual $30,000 in student fees (including $20,000 in out-of-state tuition), so she posted on Facebook that she was looking for a husband.. (The woman requested anonymity out of fear of repercussions from U.C.)

An out-of-state student whom she did not know responded to her post, and they married in 2007, the summer before her junior year. She graduated in 2009 and estimated that the marriage had saved her $50,000. The couple has divorced.

I doubt Minnesota probably is seeing much of this, as it doesn't generally have such a drastic difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition -- either in rate or total dollar amount -- according to figures from the state Office of Higher Education.

The University of Minnesota - Twin Cities charges about $12,300 to residents vs. $16,600 to non-residents -- about a third more. That said, reciprocity agreements with Wisconsin and the Dakotas mean students from those states pay in-state tuition. But differences among universities and schools (such as grad school) vary -- from zero difference at the U of M - Crookston's undergrad level to about 50 percent more at the U of M - Duluth's grad school.

Over at the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, however, the differences at some institutions are starker. Excluding students affected by reciprocity agreements, St. Cloud State University charges about $6,700 for resident undergrads vs. $13,700 for nonresidents -- just over twice as much. MSU - Mankato is even starker: $6,700 for in-state undergrads and almost $16,00 for out-of-state ones.

Two-year colleges, however, tend to charge the same to both classes of students.