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Utah Tuition & Financial Aid: A Banking Expert’s 2024 Guide to Paying for College

4/12/24  | Kinsey Love, Digital Marketing Manager


Every parent desires to pay for college with ease and confidence. Luckily for Utah parents, the Beehive State boasts various four-year undergraduate programs, from large public universities to smaller private ones. The cost — as well as financial aid and scholarships — varies, as well. There is so much to consider, but here we break down each school’s tuition, room and board, financial aid statistics, and scholarships.

How to Pay for College in Utah?

Of course, aside from getting the grades, paying for college is the tricky part. With the cost of higher education routinely running in the thousands, or even tens of thousands of dollars, for each academic year, financing your child’s education may seem like a daunting task.

Financing should be a major consideration when planning for your child’s future but it may be unwise to let the cost completely deter a student from attending a college or university. Ultimately, the numbers say that a college education pays off dividends in the long run.

A recent report in the Salt Lake Tribune referred to the benefits of higher education as “relatively overwhelming” and went on to explain that Utahns with graduate or professional degrees earn 121% more than Utahns with only a high school diploma and 154% more than those who didn’t complete high school or pass an equivalency exam.

“A college education is a worthwhile investment for a young person,” said Layne Cardon, Region Manager at Altabank. “Having a college degree opens up so many possibilities. It also provides much-needed stability for the ebbs and flows of life.”

Still, paying for college is a tremendous and sometimes difficult investment for many Utah families to make. Luckily, there are tools and resources in place to help parents and would-be students pay for college in Utah.

1. Utah 529 Plan

Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code authorizes plans that encourage saving for future education—also known as 529 plans. These plans are deferred from federal and state taxes, grow at a solid interest rate, and are tax-free at the time of withdrawal for qualified educational expenses.

In Utah, the plan established and sponsored by the state government is called my529. If you are the parent of a future Utah college student, you should be aware of this program. It’s free to open an account and the sooner you start making deposits into a 529 plan, the more it’ll grow when the time to pay for college rolls around.

2.  Scholarships for Utah Undergraduates

Given to students based on academic merit, diversity or inclusion initiatives, athletic ability, specific research or professional experience, or any other qualification, scholarships are a vital component of paying for higher education.

It’s worthwhile to set aside some time to research what scholarships are out there and how they can be applied for and potentially won—there are many scholarships available. Some standouts include the Utah Fits All Scholarship Program, which is sponsored by the Utah State Board of Education, the Opportunity Scholarship, funded by the Utah System of Higher Education, and the Hope Scholarship Utah, which is championed by Utah Parents United.

The college or university you may be interested in your student attending likely has its own network of scholarship opportunities as well.

3. Financial Aid: FAFSA

FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is a form that students in the United States fill out to determine their eligibility for financial aid for higher education from the government. This aid can include federal grants, work-study funds, and loans. The FAFSA assesses a student's financial need based on their family’s income and assets to help in the allocation of federal and state student aid.

It’s a vital part of any prospective college student’s preparation and financing. The FAFSA form was supposed to be made simpler this last year but unfortunately, the system has been thrown into a full-blown fiasco by what national experts call a “botched bureaucratic upgrade.”

Hiccups caused by a major overhaul of the FAFSA program, and some miscalculations made along the way, are forcing students and their families to re-submit their forms or wait for an indefinite period of time to find out how much aid they will receive. It’s made planning for college extremely difficult for many students who are hoping to attend their first college semester after high school graduation.

It’s hoped that the kinks will be worked out for next year, but for now, expect a lot of headaches when it comes to applying for FAFSA support.

4. Parent Loans

As opposed to student loans—which we’ll go over next—parent loans put the parent on the hook for the debt, not the student. Apart from that obvious difference, a parent loan can cover the entire school-certified cost of attendance for as little as $1,000. This gives parents a bit more wiggle room to find a loan that works best for them. Another key difference is that parent loans can have a fixed or variable interest rate, whereas federal student loans are tied to a fixed interest rate controlled by Congress.

5. Student Loans

Available to both undergraduate and graduate students, student loans can be taken out from either the federal government or private financial institutions. The interest rate and payment options can vary depending on the lender, so it’s recommended that prospective student borrowers shop around to find the program that suits them best. Of course, they’ll be on the hook for the debt.

Student loan repayment has been a polarizing political issue of late, with new developments seemingly surfacing and disappearing all the time.

Utah’s Top 6 Universities

1. University of Utah Tuition, Room & Board, Financial Aid Stats & Scholarships

At the Salt Lake City-based University of Utah, tuition fees for a full undergraduate academic year consisting of two 12-credit semesters will be $11,816 for Utah residents for the 2024-25 year.

The University also figures that books, supplies, and equipment for class will cost “Utes” an additional $1,240 per year. On-campus housing, which is quite limited, is projected to cost $9,900 per year, with food putting students back $5,900.

All in all, a Utah resident student will likely spend around $42,628 per year for tuition, room, books, and food at the University of Utah.

Simply applying for admission to the University of Utah will also get you in the running for academic merit scholarships, but each department also offers its own scholarship opportunities as well.

2. Utah State University Tuition, Room & Board, Financial Aid Stats & Scholarships

Utah students who are looking to head north to Logan and attend Utah State University can expect to pay $9,228 for a full academic year of two semesters of 12-16 credit hours each.

Due to its location and wide availability of student housing, both on and off campus, Utah State’s housing costs, which also include the cost of food, come in at just over $9,000, with off-campus housing estimated to be just a little more. Books and supplies are projected to cost $856 for the 2024-25 academic year.

Applying for admission at Utah State also automatically puts you in the running for a general scholarship, which is meted out based on your index score—a combination of GPA and ACT score. The Aggies make it easy to figure out where you land on this scale here.

Departmental scholarships are also available.

3. Utah Valley University Tuition, Room & Board, Financial Aid Stats & Scholarships

Utah Valley University, or UVU for short, has set its 2024-25 tuition rates and fees for full-time students who are Utah residents at $3,253.50.

One major perk of attending college at UVU is the rich supply of student housing in the Orem/Provo area. Freshmen Wolverines can enjoy getting into the swing of things at college by spending their first year at The Green, a very desirable student housing community across the street from the main campus. Or you can choose from any one of the many housing situations in the area available at a wide range of costs.

UVU offers scholarships for freshmen, continuing students, transfers, and graduate students.

4. Utah Tech University Tuition, Room & Board, Financial Aid Stats & Scholarships

Formerly known by a different name, Utah Tech University in St. George is a great location for students looking to escape the cold weather of Northern Utah. For both semesters in the 2024-25 academic year, future Trailblazers will be looking at a cost of $6,637. This includes tuition, fees, housing, and food.

While that cost nearly doubles for most nonresident students, students from a couple of counties in Nevada and Arizona qualify for the “Good Neighbor Program,” which gets them in classes at Utah Tech at a price much closer to what Utah residents pay.

Utah Tech, like the other schools on this list, has scholarships available for freshmen, transfer, and graduate students. The school’s website also makes it easy to find scholarships for veterans and those who are interested in serving the country while also attending school.

5. Westminster University Tuition, Room & Board, Financial Aid Stats & Scholarships

Located in Sugar House, a very attractive and hip neighborhood on Salt Lake City’s east side, Westminster University’s tuition is the highest on the list. There is no difference between what Utah residents and nonresidents pay. Tuition for full-time students at Westminster is set at $43,260 per year, with living expenses projected at $14,038.

Books are supplies are expected to cost undergraduate students an additional $1,094 per year at Westminster. All together the cost of attendance for fall and spring is estimated at $61,416.

Westminster offers scholarships for academic excellence as well as talent-based scholarships for students who excel in disciplines such as theater, music, athletics, computer science, and dance. The Westminster Commitment, a scholarship program geared toward students who excel in school and have significant financial barriers to higher education, can cover the entire cost of tuition for qualified students.

6. Brigham Young University Tuition, Room & Board, Financial Aid Stats & Scholarships

Tuition for the 2024-25 academic year at Brigham Young University, or BYU, has yet to be posted, but the previous year’s pricing does offer some key insights.

As opposed to the separation of Utah residents and non-residents, BYU, which is a private university owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, draws the line between members and non-members of the Church.

Latter-day Saint students are charged $6,496 per year, while non-members (who receive an ecclesiastical endorsement from an LDS leader) pay $12,992 for both semesters. On and off-campus living are projected equally at $9,720 per year, while books and supplies come out to $1,040. For the whole cost of attendance, LDS students are looking at a bill of $23,052 per year while non-members are paying $29,548.

BYU offers the same kinds of scholarships for freshmen, continuing students, and transfers in addition to departmental scholarships. International students also have a pool of scholarship opportunities to choose from and apply for.

Utah College Cost Calculator

College is a big deal—and an expensive one, too. However, the research continues to show that for those who attend and graduate from a Utah college or university, the chances of earning a higher income and therefore, achieving a greater quality of life are much greater than without.

“Paying for college is hard, but is still very possible for almost everyone who wants to attend,” said Cardon. “There are many tools in place to make your child’s dream of higher education a reality. We recommend doing as much ‘homework’ as possible to find the best scenario for you and your family.”

The best time to start saving for college is yesterday. The other best time is now. Altabank offers a College Cost and Savings Calculator to help you with the financial planning process of getting a student you love a great education in Utah.

Kinsey Love is the Digital Marketing Manager at Altabank. She specializes in content creation and strategy and enjoys all activities you can do in the mountains.