Paying for College 101

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When it comes to paying for college there are so many factors to consider. Every student’s financial aid process will look different, we are here to break down some of the financial aid process to help you better understand! 

What are the expenses that make up the cost of college? 

  1. Tuition and Fees 

This will be the biggest factor when calculating your cost. This is what it costs per year to attend your university and pursue your degree. This depends on the major you’re studying, whether you are considered an in-state or out-of-state student, and how many credit hours (i.e classes) you take. At Tarleton, our average cost of attendance is $22,896, BUT our average financial aid assistance package for students is $13,500.

  1. Room and Board 

This is the cost of living expenses for college. So think about housing and dining plans. Most colleges will have prices of on-campus options on their website and you can search the web for other apartments or housing off-campus. For Tarleton housing prices see here

  1. Books and supplies 

This may vary for every student. This cost comes from materials that are required like books, school supplies like scantrons, etc.

  1. Transportation

Travel expenses will also vary for each student whether you are from out-of-state or if you are sticking closer to home. Keep in mind that living on campus and off can change your costs! 

  1. Other Expenses 

This category would be for you to consider what other costs you may have. These costs can include your netflix, phone bill, car payment, personal care items, etc. Check out Texan Smart at Tarleton for tips for saving while at college and budgeting help! 

What are some of the financial aid terms that you may hear?


EFC- The expected family contribution is the calculation that colleges and universities use to determine how much financial aid each student will need. This name has been changed to the student aid index, so you may hear both terms throughout your process. 

FAFSA/TASFA– The application that you must complete in order to receive financial aid. It is a FREE application and must be updated each year.  

Net Price- This is the annual cost of attendance, minus any aid or scholarships you receive. It also does not include loans or money that is earned working. Check out Tarleton’s net price calculator here

Verification- About ⅓ of students are selected for verification after they submit their FAFSA. Verification just means that the financial aid team needs to confirm some of the information you provided on your FAFSA. This is important to complete because this must be resolved before your money can be released. 

Aid- A lot of times, aid is used in terms of money. Whether it is a scholarship, grant, or loan it can all be referred to as “aid.” 

How do I pay?

  1. Scholarships

Scholarships are fun because why? You do not have to pay these back and they are usually given for something that you did well at! Whether that is academics, community service, a skill or hobby, or athletics. Scholarships can also be awarded based on financial need. At Tarleton, we GUARANTEE scholarships to freshmen in the top half of their class and transfers that have a 2.0 GPA or higher. Not to mention we also have a General Scholarship Application for all of our other scholarship opportunities. 

  1. Grants

A grant, like the Pell grant, Texas Grant, and the TEACH grant, is money that you do not have to pay back. The Office of Financial Aid will be able to determine if you are eligible for grants, but you must complete the FAFSA or TASFA! 

  1. Loans 

A loan is borrowed money to help pay for college. Loans can be used for any other expense that your other financial aid cannot cover. There are federal loans that generally have a lower interest rate and private loans that have higher interest rates because they are not funded by the government. Loans should be considered closely and it is important to remember that you do not want to take more than you need.

  1. Federal Work Study and On-Campus Jobs 

This is a great opportunity for students to apply for jobs on campus that can help them pay for college. The great thing about working on campus is having a job that works around your class schedule!

We do not want you ever to feel alone in this journey! We have a financial aid team that is available to meet with you and talk you through your financial aid process! Schedule an appointment with a financial aid advisor or call our office at 254-968-9070.

Guaranteed Scholarship Program

What is the Guaranteed Scholarship Program? Tarleton guarantees scholarship awards to students in the top half of their graduating class!  WHY? The goal of the Guaranteed Scholarship Program is to allow students to attend college who normally wouldn’t be able to. HOW MUCH? The Guaranteed Scholarship Program is renewable for up to four years. That…

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