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The 6 Steps You Need to Take to Make College Affordable

Figuring out your financial aid for college doesn’t have to be complicated – but you do need to complete some important steps along the way. Keene State believes all students should be able to afford an excellent higher education – so let’s get rolling!

Get a Seat at the Table and Complete Your FAFSA

To get started, you first need to estimate your financial aid eligibility. Your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is your first big move. And it’s an important one!

Why complete your FAFSA? It’s the single biggest way to secure gift aid, which doesn’t need to be paid back. It opens doors for college grants, work-study funds, federal student loans and some state-based aid.

Keene State awards an automatic $500 FAFSA completion scholarship to your financial aid package!

Many states and colleges set deadlines for submission. Check your state here. It’s good to understand that it’s first come, first serve and applications begin in January.

It takes time to complete and has multiple steps, so set aside plenty of time. You can find answers to common FAFSA questions at FAFSA Help.

Compare Apples to Apples

Your financial aid package arrives, and things are getting real! If you’re admitted to Keene State and qualify for financial aid, you will receive a detailed letter that explains your package.

From scholarships and grants to loans and student work opportunities, there are a variety of sources available to help fund your education. (Don’t worry; we’ll walk you through these options.)

Understanding your award letter is key to comparing colleges. One of the biggest mistakes students make when reviewing their offer letters is assuming that the biggest scholarship offers the best deal. Keep in mind that some schools award more in student aid but still cost much more to attend.

Keene State students pay an average of $10,000 in-state and $15,000 out-of-state per year in tuition.

Financial aid eligibility varies from school to school, so it helps to organize the information in one place. Below are examples of costs of attendance, financial aid offers, and the net cost, which is what you would actually pay:

Cost of Attendance Grants/Scholarships Net Price Student Loan Eligibility NET COST
College A $50,000 $23,000 $27,000 $5,500 $21,500
College B $30,000 $7,500 $22,500 $5,500 $17,000
College C $15,000 $1,000 $14,000 $5,500 $8,500

You can see in the example that the biggest aid package of $23,000 would end up costing the most in the long run. That’s why a straightforward comparison - like this - can be valuable. Note that Work-Study awards are not considered in this calculation since students are paid hourly for the actual hours worked and can be used for miscellaneous expenses.

To help you better plan for your college investment, don’t forget to consider expenses like books and supplies, parking, and personal expenses. At KSC, we recommend $2,500 annually for these costs.

Looking at the big picture means analyzing the true cost of college and incorporating room and board rates along with tuition and mandatory fees. For example, here’s a breakdown from Keene State:

2024-25 ChargesResident of NHOut-of-State
Tuition (full-time)$11,754$23,810
Room (average)$10,000$10,000
Board (Hootie’s Choice Plus)$4,432$4,432
Mandatory Fees$3,030$3,030

Go Fish(ing) in More Pools

While FAFSA is a big deal, it’s not the only way to make college affordable. Many students make use of independent grants and scholarships to fund their higher education. These can come from community groups, businesses, special interest groups, and other sources. Usually, these are sourced through your high school. Completing your FAFSA is still important because some grant and scholarship sources also utilize the information.

Want to see what Keene State has to offer? Prospective students can begin their scholarship and grant research here.

Pass GO and Collect Your Salary

Work-study and on-campus jobs can help cover your college costs. You can get hands-on experience in your field and make college more affordable all in one go. All students enrolled full-time at KSC are eligible to work on campus, either under the Federal Work-Study Program if they qualify, or under KSC’s Student Hourly program.

Federal Work Study Program

If you are eligible to participate in the Federal Work-Study Program, you’ll see a Work-Study line item on the letter you receive from the Financial Aid Office.

Other On-Campus Employment

On-campus employment has many benefits beyond supporting your financial needs. It’s a way to build skills applicable to your career. It’s a place to network both personally and professionally. And, it builds self-confidence.

Focus on the End Game

Once you have a full picture of your financial aid, scholarships, grants and/or work study funds, it’s time to review and accept your rewards. You have worked hard gathering all the funds you need to launch your education adventure! So be sure to complete any last requirements to fully secure the financial aid offers you’ve received.

Send out letters of acceptance and make note of any future requirements needed to ensure the financial aid will be available to you for the length of time that’s been offered. For example, your FAFSA must be renewed yearly, by March 1. Don’t miss out on funds by skipping the fine print!

Turn Opportunity into Reality

You have evaluated affordability and applied for aid. You’ve sent in your requests for grants and scholarships. You’ve received your financial aid offers. Finally, it’s time to put those assets to work. At last, you’re ready to submit payment to the school of your choice. Congratulations!

You have successfully made your college experience affordable. An investment into your future!

Ready to take the next step? Scheduling a campus tour at Keene State is a great way to get the campus vibe and learn about our academic options. Plus, each official campus tour secures you with an automatic $1000 Visit Scholarship to apply towards your full package. Cha-Ching!

Contact Admissions

Admissions Office
☎ 603-358-2276
229 Main Street
Keene, New Hampshire 03435