Cutting Costs for College

What are two of the best ways to reduce costs of earning your college degree? 

  1. Spend less time in college so that you have a lower total for tuition, fees, room and board, books and other expenses. 
  2. Get someone else to help you pay for college.

1. Less Time

Degree planning has a lot to do with how much time you need to complete your degree. Work with your academic advisor to be sure you take all the required courses for your degree. Not all courses are taught every term, so check on the course rotation for your major. You don’t want to have to pay for an extra term because you missed the cycle for that last course you need!

You can also bring college course credits with you to fulfill some of your requirements.  Fewer credits to complete generally means less time before you earn your degree. There are two kinds of credits that UIU can accept: traditional credits and non-traditional credits.

Traditional Credits

Incoming first-year students who have taken dual credit courses and/or received the required scores on advanced placement tests may get to jump start their degree.

Transfer students may bring up to 90 total credits from a four-year college OR up to 78 credits from a two-year college. In general, credits can be transferred for all lecture and lab courses at recognized colleges and schools.

If you’re a transfer student, you may be able to benefit from the nearly 100 "articulation agreements" that UIU has with two-year colleges.  These agreements set up course equivalency guidelines and transfer plans that make it easier to transfer credits from approved community colleges because UIU has already reviewed the courses and agreed to how many credits will count toward a UIU degree.

The terms of each articulation agreement varies, so be sure to talk with your transfer coordinator or the UIU Registrar’s Office about your school’s specific agreement with Upper Iowa. And ask your UIU admission counselor about a free transcript evaluation to determine just how many credits you have already earned toward an Upper Iowa degree.  Those transfer credits can apply to however you earn your UIU degree -- on campus, at a center, or through distance education.

Please note that Upper Iowa reserves the right to change or update information about articulation agreements at any time. Complete course descriptions and degree requirements are available in the catalogs. Current list of schools with “articulation agreements” with UIU.

Non-traditional Credits

Some students may also be able to bring up to 30 college credits for prior training and experiences. UIU can work with you to develop an Experiential Learning Portfolio based on your previous achievements. Because the documentation process is extensive and demands considerable time, you must be accepted for admission and registered for at least one UIU course before you may apply for experiential learning credit.

UIU does not guarantee that it can accept experiential learning credit granted by another institution nor that credit granted by UIU for experiential learning will transfer to other institutions.

Some students also may receive college credit for training completed as part of their work in law enforcement, fire science training, the military or other formal training. A maximum of 30 semester credits can be earned through a combination of portfolio and law enforcement/fire science credits.

Verified credits for military and other formal training, according to the American College on Education (ACE) guidelines, may also be accepted. Up to 78 lower division semester credits and an additional 12 upper division semester ACE-evaluated military credits may be transferred for a maximum of 90 semester credits.

Students also may earn college credit through CLEP, DSST, Excelsior College and/or ACT-PEP examinations. If you are thinking of taking one of these tests, talk to your advisor first to be sure it fits into your UIU degree plan.

Contact your UIU academic advisor for information on the how to submit your documentation of prior experience and training and the evaluation fees.

Please note that all UIU degrees require than at least 30 college credits be completed through Upper Iowa to earn a bachelor’s degree. A minimum of 60 graded credits is required for any UIU students to be eligible to graduate magna or summa cum laude. 

2. Lower Costs

Financial Aid

One way to reduce the cost of college is financial aid.  All students interested in financial aid must determine their eligibility each year by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid as soon as possible after January 1. The UIU FAFSA code is 001893. All federal aid, and most private assistance is based on FAFSA-determined eligibility. If you are a minor, your parents;’ financial assets also will be reviewed each year.

In addition, UIU has merit and need-based scholarships available to first-year and transfer students. Talk to your admissions counselor about your eligibility and what you need to do to ensure you receive the financial assistance you need.

Returning UIU students also may be eligible for UIU merit and need-based scholarships that are awarded every spring.  Be sure to meet the application deadlines.

Employer Tuition Assistance

Many employers also help their workers (and their families) pay for college. If you are a full-time employee, be sure to check if your employer has college tuition benefits.

Upper Iowa also has a variety of agreements with corporations that offer their employees scholarships when taking UIU courses online or attending Upper Iowa at one of 20 education centers in seven states. Employees, spouses and their dependents (up to age 26) are eligible for these scholarships if their employer is a member of the UIU “Corporate Advantage Program.” UIU also waives student application fees for CAP participants.

The scholarship varies for each CAP employer based on the number of employees enrolled in UIU annually.  Generally, the scholarship is about 10 percent of tuition. Currently, CAP has a membership of about 40 companies.  See current list of CAP employers.

For more information, talk to your employer’s HR office or your UIU admission counselor.