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Financial Aid | Scholarships | Budgeting

4 Things Every Undergrad Should Know About Tuition

The best thing to do when beginning the college financial discussion is to understand the terms and lingo—when it comes to budgeting for school, "tuition" is one of the first words you'll encounter. But what does this term actually mean?

Here are four things every undergraduate student should know about tuition.


While the term "tuition" itself doesn't include the cost of room and board or meal plans, these are typically lumped together when walking through a payment plan for college. What tuition does cover is the cost of your classes themselves—from credit hours to academic support to access to high-quality educational excellence.


Since tuition is essentially your ticket to a college education and a degree, there's true value in what it provides you after graduation. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median earnings of someone with a bachelor's degree versus simply a high school diploma increases 67 percent. Beyond that, the unemployment rate among people with a bachelor's degree is nearly half that of those with a high school diploma. Plus, when it comes to SDSU, our graduates enjoy approximately 95 percent placement rate post graduation.

Public vs. Private

One important thing to realize about undergraduate tuition is that it will vary greatly from public schools to private schools. CollegeBoard estimates that average tuition at a four-year private college or university is $33,480—while a public school is $9,650. Beyond that, a study from the Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment found that among recent graduates, public college or university students had less trouble finding employment than their private-school counterparts. SDSU's tuition rate is actually 15 percent less than the national average for in-state and reciprocity students and 54 percent less for out-of-state students.

Financial Aid

The beauty of your tuition cost is that it's not a hard-and-fast amount. Financial aid and scholarships can do a lot to reduce the amount. Whether it's your FAFSA package or scholarships related to academic excellence, success in athletics or success in the arts or other areas, you have options when it comes to aid. (FastWeb.com is a great place to start your scholarship search.) In addition, SDSU offers a payment program through Nelnet Business Solutions that can help you spread your payments across the year, versus paying in one lump sum.

Want to find out more about SDSU's financial aid options? Click here.

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