How can I afford college?

Just about everyone will ask this question at some point. But fear not, because we want to help you with the answer.

Don’t take yourself out of the game by ruling out a particular college or university simply on the basis of overall tuition. Unless you apply and find out what sort of financial aid is available for you, you’ll never know if you could have attended your first-choice college. Here are some things to know.

Difference between “sticker price” and “net price.”

The overall tuition, or “sticker price,” of a private college is typically higher than the overall tuition of a public college. But once all types of financial aid are factored in, the actual “out-of-pocket” expense for many families is often about the same, or sometimes even less, than the cost of a public college.

Types of financial aid.

The major categories of financial aid include grants and scholarships (which do not need to be repaid) and loans (which do need to be repaid).

See definitions of these different types of financial aid by clicking the titles in the box below.


The state of Indiana awards grants to students based on financial need. These may be used at Indiana public or private colleges. For example, an entering freshman at one of Indiana’s private colleges may be able to receive up to a maximum of $8,200 in state aid.



The federal government also awards aid based on family income. The maximum Pell grant is now $5,775 per year.

ICI colleges themselves regularly award students grants and/or scholarships based on financial need, as well as academic and other special abilities (e.g. music or athletics). The average institutional grant at Indiana private colleges is more than $17,000 (meaning some students receive more and some receive less).
Many scholarships are also available through foundations, corporations, or other organizations.

You can check out these questions for more information about scholarships.

College loans are available through the government, as well as private sources such as banks. Loan repayment usually starts after graduation.
Check out Learn More Indiana’s website for more information on how you can save and pay for college:

Won’t I have student debt?

If you pay attention to the news, you’re sure to have seen the reports about students being “buried” in student debt. The reality of student debt at private colleges in Indiana is not so grim.

Money borrowed for college by Indiana students varies little by the type of institution, public or private, you attend (average debt for graduates of Indiana privates is $28,000, and for publics, $26,000, about the same cost as a new mid-size car). Plus, graduates of Indiana private colleges and universities do best when it comes to repaying their student loans, having the smallest default rate.

Doing the Math

It’s surprising to many families to learn that Indiana’s private colleges — with their higher sticker prices — provide students with not only better academic outcomes but also a better economic return.

It makes sense, though, when you know what factors make up that better value proposition and return on investment:

  • Indiana’s private colleges and universities offset tuition and reduce costs with significant financial aid.
  • Students double their chances of graduating in four years by attending an ICI school, meaning no 5th or 6th year of college costs.
  • Entering the workforce earlier means you are earning money, not spending or borrowing more for college.
  • High placement rates of ICI graduates into jobs or graduate study propel students into career success.