How to Pay for College

We get it. College is expensive and costs are likely to keep climbing in the next few years. The good news is you and your family probably won’t pay the price you see listed in school websites and brochures thanks to a variety of aid, grants, and scholarships.

Sticker Price vs. Net Price.

The “sticker price” is the estimated cost of attendance before aid from the college or university, federal grants, or scholarship money is applied. About 60% of all college students receive grant aid, averaging $1,800 per student at two-year public colleges, $3,300 at four-year public colleges and $9,600 at private four-year colleges.*

Getting to the Net Price.

Starting in October, you can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This form asks questions about your family’s financial situation and helps the government determine what’s called your “Expected Family Contribution”. The EFC is the amount of money you are expected to contribute to your college expenses each year.

Once your EFC has been determined, colleges will look at this number and your academic performance in high school as well as the cost of attending their school. Based on all of these things, they will determine the types of tuition reductions and grants they are willing to offer and then you’ll have your net price. Many schools have net cost calculators on their websites that you can use to estimate the amount before submitting all of the paperwork.

Idaho College & University Annual Sticker Prices, Estimated for 2017-18:

School In-State, Full-Time Undergraduate Tuition & Fees Books & Supplies Estimated Room & Board Total Base Cost
Boise State University $7,576 $1,200 $9,155 $17,931
College of Southern Idaho $3,900 $888 $6,100 $10,888
College of Western Idaho $3,336 (in-district) $888 N/A $4,224
College of Eastern Idhao $2,464 $3,379 $2,700 $8,543
Idaho State University $7,160 $900 $8,250 $14,657
Lewis-Clark State College $6,334 $1,650 $8,250 $14,657
North Idaho College $3,360 $888 $7,500 $12,498
University of Idaho $7,488 $1,214 $9,148 $17,850


  1. Based on information from college and university websites and IACRAO Higher Education Book 2017-2018.
  2. Some figures are the average of cost ranges provided by schools.
  3. Books & Supplies at two-year public institutions are based on the estimate provided by the College of Western Idaho.
  4. All fees estimated are for a full academic year (no special sessions) and based on 12 credit hours per semester for those that calculate costs per credit hour.

Covering What’s Left

Even with help, you may be left with a bill for what the government expects you to cover with savings or other income. Be sure to look for the information about loans available to you through the federal government, which should be listed in your financial award letter. These public loans will usually cost less in the long run, as their interest rates are lower than those for private loans. You and your family can also choose to apply for private loans to pay for additional college and living expenses.

*Source: Know How to Go