What are the different ways I can pay for college?
Learn about grants, scholarships, work-study programs, and student loans.
Grants are usually provided by the state or federal government. They don’t have to be repaid, and are based on financial need (determined by the FAFSA). One of the most common grants is the Federal Pell Grant (max: $6,095 per year).
Talk to your high school counselor or contact the financial aid office at one of Utah’s universities or colleges for more information.
Scholarships are financial awards you apply for based on criteria such as academic achievement, talent, financial need, etc. Many scholarships require you to take specific high school courses, maintain certain standards in high school (such as a minimum GPA), or take a certain number of credit hours per semester.
For scholarship resources and how to get started applying for scholarships, download the scholarship toolkit.
Work-study allows eligible students to earn money through a part-time job. Work-study jobs are usually on campus, have flexible hours, come with financial aid benefits, and give you work experience related to your major in college (such as working in a chemistry lab or campus business office). Check with the financial aid office at your college to find out more.
my529 is a tax-advantaged 529 college savings plan designed to encourage saving for future qualified higher education expenses. The benefits of opening a my529 account include:
- Anyone age 18 or older can open a my529 account, and anyone can contribute to it.
- There is no cost to open an account and no minimum balance is required.
- Fees are among the lowest in the nation.
- Utah state income tax credits are available for Utah account owners with qualifying beneficiaries.
- Earnings grow tax-deferred and are not subject to federal and Utah state income tax as long as you use withdrawals for qualified higher education expenses, such as tuition, mandatory fees, required books and supplies, and certain room-and-board costs.
Visit my529.org for more information or to open an account online.
Bank/credit union savings
Visit websites such as bankrate.com for more information.
You MUST repay student loans, even if you don’t graduate from college.
The U.S. Department of Education has the William T. Ford Federal Direct (Direct Loan) Program, which is the largest federal student loan program. Under this program, the U.S. Department of Education in the lender.
The following types of Direct Loans are available:
Direct Subsidized Loans are for eligible undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need to help cover the costs of higher education at a college or career school. The loan won’t accrue interest as long as you’re enrolled at least half-time.
Direct Unsubsidized Loans are for eligible undergraduate, graduate and professional students, but in this case, the student doesn’t have to demonstrate financial need to be eligible for the loan. This loan begins accruing interest as soon as you receive them, and you’re responsible for paying that interest.
Direct PLUS Loans are for parents to help their dependent students pay for college or for a graduate or professional degree seeking student. Check with your college’s financial aid office to find out more.
Direct Consolidation Loans allows students who already have eligible federal student loans to combine them into one single loan with a single loan servicer. Check with your college’s financial aid office for more information.
Student loan tips:
- Exhaust all other financial aid options before considering student loans. Fill out the FAFSA and look far and wide for scholarships, grants and work-study options.
- Borrow only 8-10% of your expected income upon college graduation. Find beginning salary averages for many occupations at UtahFutures.org and loan payment calculators.
- Borrow federal direct student loans first. Borrow private loans only when necessary. Research all terms and conditions before borrowing any type of loan.
- While you are in college, keep track of your loan amount(s) and consider what you will have to repay once you graduate. Use nslds.gov to track federal loans.
- Know all the important details about any loan(s) you borrow: interest rates, repayment terms (such as how many years you have to pay back the loan, what the monthly payment amounts will be, etc.), and borrower rights and responsibilities.
- If you have an unsubsidized loan, pay your loan interest before you graduate college.