By Katie Wornek, Outreach Officer and Financial Aid Expert – February 9, 2018

Did you know that Utah is home to over 65,000 refugees from 20 different countries? StepUp is proud of our state’s dedication to diversity and humanitarianism and we are happy to help students from diverse backgrounds navigate their unique paths to college.

What will I pay for college?

The price for college depends on many things, like where you go to college and what you study. Here are a few things all college students pay for:

Tuition and fees Housing and food Books and supplies Transportation
Tuition is the money you pay to attend classes at college.

Fees are money you pay to use a college’s campus (buildings and land) and services (like sports, activities, or clinics).

As a refugee, if you are a resident of Utah, you will pay “in-state” tuition if you go to a public college in Utah. This is true even if you’re not yet a United States citizen. This means you pay less for school than students who move from another state.

If you want to attend college outside of Utah, ask the college you are interested in about ways they can help with tuition.

You can pay to live in a dorm or apartment on your college campus. This usually means you have to pay for a meal plan on campus, too.

You can pay to live in a house or apartment outside of your college campus and buy your own food.

You could save money by living at home with your family during college.

You will need textbooks or other supplies (like a computer) for your classes. These are not included in tuition and fees.

You can buy books and supplies at your college, at other stores, or online.

Sometimes you can rent or buy used books and supplies instead of new ones to save money. You may also be able to use library books and computer labs.


How you travel to school affects how much you pay.

If you drive, you will have to pay for things like gas and parking.

If you take the train or bus, you may be able to get a student discount and pay less.



How do I pay for college?

There are many ways to get help paying for school. Here are the basics:

Scholarships College savings The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
Scholarships are free money.

Some scholarships are given to students who need help paying for college.

Some scholarships are given out for things like good grades, sports, cultural diversity, volunteering, leadership, and other skills and traits.

You have to apply for scholarships, but you should never pay money to apply for a scholarship.

Find scholarships by talking to your school counselor or searching websites like Utah Futures or Unigo.

Look for scholarships in your community and state – like the Regents’ Scholarship. Organizations like OneRefugee also help Utah refugee students get scholarships. Your employer or your parents’ employer might help with college costs.

Attend a summer bridge program (like this one at the University of Utah) to learn new skills, meet new people, and apply for scholarships.

Scholarship applications might ask you to write a personal statement. This is your chance to share your life experience and tell people what makes you unique. Start your personal statement early, ask for opinions and edits, and update your personal statement as new events happen in your life.

Try to save money for college now if you can.

You can save money in a bank or in Utah’s college savings plan, “My529”.

Some organizations pay you to save money for college – visit AAA Fair Credit for more information.

The United States government offers money to help students go to college.

Federal financial aid includes grants (money you don’t have to pay back), work-study (money you earn through a part-time job) and student loans (money you borrow and pay back with interest).

The only way to ask for federal financial aid is by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at You need to do this your senior year of high school and every year you’re in college.

If you need help with your FAFSA, contact StepUp (our contact information is at the bottom of this blog). College financial aid offices, like Salt Lake Community College, also sometimes offer in-person FAFSA help. 

You can still get federal financial aid even if you are not yet a United States citizen (you just say “I’m an eligible non-citizen” on the FAFSA).

Always use money you don’t have to pay back first (grants, scholarships, work-study, and college savings) before taking money you do have to pay back (student loans).


StepUp wants to see you succeed on your college journey. If you need help or have questions about paying for college, here are a few places to start:

StepUp Utah

Call Jacob Newman 801-366-8487

Email Jacob at

Find us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (@StepUpUtah)

Or stop by our office at 60 South 400 West in downtown Salt Lake City.

Utah Refugee Services

Call Alexx Goeller at 801-347-3218

Email Alexx at

Or visit a location near you.