Financial Aid Planning- A Four Year Plan

We are very proud that in the last five years, over 93% of our graduates completed their degree in four years. We understand your family’s investment in a college education, and we want to make sure this is a sound, solid investment. Proactively looking at the future, we recommend that Saint Mary’s families create both an academic and a financial plan that prepares you for the years ahead, beyond your first year as a Belle.

The Cost of Saint Mary’s

Saint Mary’s Board of Trustees, working closely with the administration of the College, take into consideration a number of factors when setting the costs of attendance for the College. As good stewards of the College’s resources, they work hard to keep our cost affordable to anyone who would like to benefit from a Saint Mary’s education. Tuition, room and board rates, however, tend to increase slightly over time. Tuition typically increases 3% to 5% per year, and room and meal costs typically increase 3% to 4% per year.

Amount of Aid In Future Year

There are a variety of factors that impact the amount of aid you will receive in subsequent years. To be considered for financial assistance each year, you must:

  • Complete the FAFSA each year by the March 1 deadline if receiving federal or state aid, including federal loans. The amount of need-based aid could decrease if the deadline is not met.
  • Continue to meet the minimum standards of satisfactory academic progress to maintain federal aid.
  • Remain enrolled full time and meet the required cumulative grade point average requirements to renew academic merit scholarships
  • Continue to qualify by submitting the FAFSA and other documentation requested on time, to renew need-based institutional grants and/or named scholarships
  • Continue to have an eligible parent employed by one of the participating colleges or universities if participating in tuition remission programs. In addition, the CIC, CCCTE and Notre Dame programs require an annual application by the eligible parent.

If your family’s financial situation and your housing status don’t change from the prior year, the amount of need-based assistance you receive should be similar. If any of the following situations occur the amount of aid from Saint Mary's College will likely be different:

  • Student fails to maintain the grade point average required for her scholarship
  • The number of people in the family and/or the number of people enrolled in an undergraduate degree program changes
  • The student moves from on-campus housing to off-campus housing, or vice versa
  • The parent or student income increases or decreases significantly
  • The parent or student assets increase or decrease significantly
  • The student’s aid in the prior year was based on a special circumstances appeal that is not renewed in the following year

Saving for College

The more money you save, the more options you'll have. To encourage family savings, Saint Mary’s College has partnered with SAGE Scholars. This program allows families to earn Tuition Rewards by saving for college with a variety of financial partners. To learn more about this program visit the SAGE Scholars website.

Stay on Track and Graduate on Time

Did you know Saint Mary’s has a Four Year Promise? Although in recent years 93% of our graduates completed their degree in four years or less, so you are most likely to do the same, there is an incentive for you to stay on track. If you follow the simple guidelines of the program, and you are not able to complete your degree in four years, Saint Mary’s will pay for the additional courses that you need to complete the degree. You could be out in the workforce almost two years ahead than your high school classmates, according to the national average for degree completion.

Multiple Siblings at Saint Mary's

Families that have more than one dependent sibling concurrently enrolled full-time at Saint Mary’s receive a 10% discount on tuition for each sibling after the first. The subsequent sibling(s) will keep this award as long as an older sibling remains enrolled full-time. This sibling discount is awarded on top of other merit aid a student may already have. No application is needed to receive this award; simply contact the Financial Aid Office.

Summer Earnings

Summer student earnings are an important contribution toward tuition for the upcoming year. At the very least, summer earnings can be used to help pay for books and supplies.

Tax Benefits

There are a variety of tax credits and deductions for which families may be eligible. We have found this publication to be very helpful when understanding this process, however, we encourage you to talk to a tax advisor about these options, including the following:

  • Hope Scholarship Tax Credit - Can be subtracted from federal taxes owed. Taxpayers can claim the Hope Scholarship Tax Credit two times for one student, only for the freshman and sophomore years.
  • Lifetime Learning Tax Credit - A maximum tax credit of 20% of the first $10,000 of a student's qualified educational expenses may be applied over an unlimited number of tax years.
  • Tuition and Fees Tax Deduction - For taxpayers who don't qualify for the Hope or Lifetime Learning tax credits, this deduction reduces taxable income.

Other Financial Tips

  • Cut costs anyway possible; rent your books rather than purchasing books, live in a room with more roommates, create a personal expense budget and stick to it!
  • Students who have unsubsidized federal or private alternative loans should make every effort to pay the interest on these loans during the year. Paying this interest rather than letting it accrue will reduce the amount the student owes upon graduation.
  • Students should put time and effort into applying for scholarships from outside agencies. The odds of winning a local scholarship are usually better than the odds of winning a national scholarship, so check for opportunities in your local community first (junior women’s leagues, Kiwanis clubs, Optimists clubs, hospital auxiliary leagues, etc.) and don’t forget to search for major-specific scholarships.
  • The tuition cost at Saint Mary's College covers up to 18 credit hours per semester. Talk to your academic advisor to see if it is possible to take a larger class load each semester and graduate even faster.