Looking at
Real Costs

Maybe you already know which college you'd like to attend. If you haven't made that choice then start by visiting What to Consider When Picking a College.

When you've made your choice (or picked your top two choices), it's time to pull together some current costs. First, start by listing the total cost for one year of college below (if you completed the Researching College Form, you can list that amount here).

Cost Per Year of College: (include tuition, books, fees, room and board [if needed] and other expenses you can anticipate)

College A: _____________ College B: _____________

Next, subtract from the total any amounts you or your family have saved for your college education.

Amount Saved
for College _____________
Amount Saved
for College _____________

New Totals:

College A: _____________ College B: _____________

Chances are the cost of a year of college is more than you have in savings. Don't be discouraged; two-thirds of college students need financial aid to continue their education. There are ways to fill gap, including:

  • Scholarships and grants
  • Work-study programs
  • Community service jobs
  • Loans (most tribal colleges do not participate in the federal student loan program)

You may be wondering why you only have to list the cost of one year of college instead of two or four years. On the negative side, the cost of college rises almost every year and it's hard to predict costs in the future. On the positive side, after you've been a student for a while, the more you'll realize what resources are available to you. Over time, it may be easier to explore little-known scholarships or grants and have focused talks with a college financial aid officer. Your out-of-pocket costs could actually go down.

After you've considered ways to fill the financial gap in paying for college, it's time to learn about the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) form. If you are enrolling in tribal college, you should also file for tribal assistance.