How much does it cost to go to the UW?There's no definitive answer to this question. Variables include: whether you're a Washington state resident; how many credits you take each quarter; what courses you take (books and supplies are more costly for some courses than others); where you live while attending school; and your lifestyle. We'll discuss some of these factors below.
What is tuition?Tuition is the basic amount the UW collects from you every quarter to help defray the costs of keeping the university going. Tuition itself varies, depending on whether you qualify for in-state rates (are a Washington state resident) and how many credits you take. Check the Tuition Rates website for the most up-to-date information.
How do I know if I qualify for in-state rates?
If you've just been admitted, check MyUW to see if you are classified as a "resident" and thus eligible for in-state (lower) tuition rates. If you've lived in Washington state most of your life and/or your parents are Washington state residents and you are a dependent, you will most likely qualify for in-state rates.
If MyUW shows you as a non-resident, and you think you should qualify as a resident, look at the Washington State Residency website for more information.
Why does it cost so much more for non-residents?Washington residents, and their parents, pay taxes that go toward supporting the costs of running the UW (salaries, operating expenses, building maintenance, etc.). Non-residents pay the actual, estimated cost to the University of supporting you as a student. Residents pay a lower rate because they pay taxes toward supporting the UW's operation.
Beyond tuition, are there any hidden fees?
Well, they aren't exactly "hidden," but you may not be aware of other expenses associated with attending classes. For example, you will need books and supplies. To get an idea how much books will cost, go to the Time Schedule and select a past quarter. Find any course and click on the SLN, the hyperlinked five-digit number next to each class section. This takes you to detailed information about the course. Click on "Display Textbooks." The required textbooks will be listed, with their prices. Check several courses to get an idea of what the cost of textbooks will be; you'll probably be surprised by how expensive college textbooks are. If you have courses in mind for your first quarter, you can go to that quarter's Time Schedule and check them out. Autumn quarter textbooks, however, sometimes aren't listed until late in the summer.
The cost of supplies you'll need for courses will vary. Supplies for an art class could be relatively expensive. For other classes you'll just need a spiral notebook for note-taking. Science lab classes usually require a fee, which should be listed in the Time Schedule and will be added to your tuition bill.
The technology fee, which goes toward providing high-tech access for all students, is included in the basic tuition rate.
Beyond that, you'll probably run up against some fees. For example, you'll pay $20 to drop a class after the deadline, $9 for an official transcript, a fine if you don't return library books on time, or $75 if you don't pay your tuition by the deadline. Most of these surprise fees can be avoided, though, if you meet deadlines and obligations on time.
Any other surprises?
There are some "optional expenses." If you want student health insurance, for example, that's an extra charge.
If you sign up for more than 18 credits in a quarter, you'll be charged per credit beyond the basic tuition fee.
Is that all?No, indeed. You'll also have living expenses. You can find estimated living expenses at our Annual Student Budget website, but the figures shown include so many variables that you'd be better off figuring out your own individual situation. Factors you need to consider include where you plan to live (at home, in the residence halls, in an apartment, in a single room in a private home); whether you're responsible just for your own expenses, or for others as well; whether you'll have commuting costs; and how extravagant a lifestyle you maintain. Sit down and draw up an estimate of how much you'll spend just to keep yourself going for the next year. Don't forget car expenses and insurance (if any), and whether you can rely on a bailout in case of emergency.
What if my likely income doesn't match my projected expenses?You have four options:
- Revise your budget. What, if anything, are you willing to sacrifice, in order to cover your irreducible expenses? Maybe some things you've considered essential can be redirected to the "optional" category. College is expensive, no question about it. Unless you have unlimited resources to draw upon, you can't expect to live the same lifestyle while you're attending college that you would have if you weren't paying for tuition, books, and all the rest. Will you really need a car? Could you spend less on clothes or travel or dining out? This is only for four years, after all, and everyone expects a student to have a somewhat reduced lifestyle.
- Get a job. On-campus jobs in food service, libraries, etc. are plentiful. Although they don't pay especially well, they are right at hand and don't eat up valuable time going to and from work. For information about jobs on campus see our Student Employment Links.
- Go part time. You'll get more out of school if you attend full time and get totally involved in the university experience, but that isn't feasible if you have to work a lot of hours to make ends meet. In general, we strongly recommend that you take only two classes if you are planning on working more than twenty hours per week, and only one class if you plan to work full-time.
- Take time off from school and return after you've improved your financial situation. Once you've attended the UW for at least one quarter you can come and go, if necessary, until you earn a degree. If you have to leave for a while to work or deal with personal problems you'll be allowed to return and resume your studies when you're ready.
One of the most frequent reasons that students get into academic difficulty is that they try to work too many hours while attending college. Under those circumstances, something is bound to suffer — your grades, your ability to stay alert at work, your health. And if your grades suffer too badly, you might damage your record to the point where it's no longer possible to gain admission to the major or postgraduate program that is your goal. Be realistic about what you can accomplish, and don't attempt to cut corners in your academic work. In the long run, it doesn't pay. Remember, too, that advisers are always here to help you work through these decisions.
Will I end up with a huge debt?Possibly. But in the long run, college pays off. On average, college graduates earn twice as much over a lifetime as their high school peers. Beyond that, your college education will add immeasurably to your enjoyment of life. You'll be better-informed, more interested, and more interesting — as an employee, spouse, parent, and citizen.
Who can I talk to more about finances?
Although academic advisers are always happy to discuss any issue with you, the advisers at Student Fiscal Services specialize in student financial issues.