Utah’s public colleges are among the best deals in the country.
Utah was recently ranked “the best state for student debt.” With one of the lowest tuition rates for 4-year public colleges in the country, Utah is one of the most cost-effective states to get a college degree. Utah ranks high in key categories:
• 3rd lowest tuition/fees for public four-year institutions
• 3rd lowest student debt as a percentage of the cost of living
• 3rd lowest unemployment rate for people ages 25-34
• 4th in home ownership ranking among people ages 25-34
• 4th lowest percentage of student loan borrowers ages 50+
• Low percentage of student loan balances AND borrowers in past due or default status
Paying for college is possible.
Even with Utah’s positive rankings, paying for a college education is a complex investment that requires long-term planning and the right tools to make important decisions. Headlines regularly cite statistics about the rising cost of college, increased student debt, and rising tuition. The trends are even used to undermine the clear value and return on investment of a college education. A college education is still one of the most valuable investments available, and with proper planning, college can be affordable. And Utah has one of the best deals in the country for college.
There are several resources available to help students navigate the many options to pay for higher education. The Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority and the Utah Educational Savings Plan, both subsidiaries of the Board of Regents, offer important resources to guide your financial planning for college. Here are some additional suggestions:
Start saving. Utah’s official 529 plan, the Utah Educational Savings Plan, is consistently ranked among the best plans in the country. A tax-advantaged savings plan like a 529 is a great option to plan ahead.
Educate yourself. Not learning about the financial aid opportunities is one of the most common and worst mistakes a student can make in the college process. There are several ways to help pay for college, and it literally pays to know the options. In addition, it’s important to know the different types of higher education institutions. Aid from a for-profit college could be very different from non-profit and public institutions.
Complete the FAFSA. For high school seniors, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid is the first step to obtaining most types of financial aid. Even if a student isn’t currently planning to seek financial aid, there is still good reason to complete the FAFSA. It is the primary vehicle to estimate aid eligibility for various types of public and institutional aid. Plus, it’s free.
Learn the real cost of college. Since 2011, most colleges and universities have been required to provide a Net College Price Calculator to help drill down to the true projected cost of a person’s college degree based on the institution he/she plans to attend. Different than the “sticker price” of advertised tuition and fees, net college price accounts for several factors that comprise the true cost of college.
Contact a local financial aid office. Each of the eight institutions within the Utah System of Higher Education (USHE) have financial aid offices that can provide free personalized guidance on financial aid. Just like life’s other important financial decisions, talking in-person with an expert can help make paying for college an easier process.
Additional information and FAQs on paying for college