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How to Pay for College

Educational costs can be paid through a combination of savings, current income, borrowing, private scholarships, and if eligible, financial aid. Salem State offers a combination of need and merit-based aid.

What is Financial Aid?

Financial aid is money to help you pay for your education expenses. Types of aid include grants and scholarships, work-study and loans. The amount you receive is determined by your Cost of Attendance (COA) and Expected Family Contribution (EFC).

In order to be considered for financial aid, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at

When you fill out your FAFSA, you’ll provide personal demographic information, as well as financial information, such as your family’s federal income tax returns, W-2 forms, bank statements, and information on your family’s investments.

Aid is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.

For detailed information on the FAFSA, types of aid, and eligibility criteria visit

How to Apply for Financial Aid

Watch this video on how to submit the FAFSA

Types of Financial Aid

  • Merit-based aid is based on your achievements and academic performance and typically includes a scholarship that does not need to be repaid.
  • Need-based aid solely takes into account the ability of you and your family to pay for college. This type of aid can come from grants, loans and work-study.

Understanding the Terminology

The cost of attendance (COA) includes tuition, fees, room and board (food), transportation, books, supplies, and miscellaneous expenses. You can estimate your cost of attendance by using our online worksheet or with our net price calculator.

All the information you put on your Free Application for Financial Aid (FAFSA) generates an estimate of how much you and your family can contribute to your education, or your Estimated Family Contribution (EFC).

What to know...

You can pay your out-of-pocket costs with a 5-month payment plan through TouchNet. Please follow the "How to set up a payment plan" guide. The payments are interest free but you will be charged a $40 enrollment fee each semester. Payments must be made on the first of each month and begin in August.

PLUS loans are federal loans that parents of dependent undergraduate students can use to help pay for education expenses not covered by other financial aid. Once your student has filled out a FAFSA, parents can apply for a PLUS loan at

Many families plan to use savings, home equity or 529 Education investments to assist their students in school. Learn more about the best ways to deploy those funds by reviewing the IRS Publication 970, Tax Benefits for education at

There are a significant number of private scholarships not connected to the university that are available to students. Begin searching the Internet for private scholarships, and check with your high school, employer or neighborhood organizations to see if scholarships are offered.

Private student loans can help you cover the cost of attendance not covered by federal/state financial aid. These private loans are available through banks, credit unions, online lenders, and other financial institutions and must be paid back. Salem State does not endorse any particular lender; visit to compare student loan options.

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