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Create a payment plan

Your college options may seem endless, but creating a payment plan will help you determine which options are most financially feasible. If you are paying back student loans, read more about loan repayment options and how to create a budget.

Your payment plan

When comparing college options, your payment plan will look something like this. Read on to discover how to calculate each cost and payment

College Tuition & fees (per year) Room & board and other costs TOTAL COSTS Financial aid Other scholarships Family contribution or savings Part-time work Loans TOTAL PAYMENT
Ball State University $8,000 $10,000 $18,000 $6,000 $1,800 $3,000 $1,000 $6,200 $18,000
Butler University $32,000 $13,000 $45,000 $13,000 $6,000 $3,000 $1,000 $22,000 $45,000

Tuition & fees

Use the Indiana College Costs Estimator to determine your estimated net price of attending any Indiana college, after financial aid. If you have already applied to college, filed your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and received your financial aid package from the college, use those numbers instead.

If you are applying to colleges that are not in Indiana, search the college website to find tuition and fee information. All amounts in your payment plan should be per year, so make sure the amounts are not tuition for just one semester.

Room, board and related costs

Determining the other costs of college can be difficult. The Indiana College Costs Estimator will provide estimated costs for Indiana colleges.

For other colleges, you will have to do a little research. If you are planning on staying in dorms on the college’s campus, you may be able to find estimated costs for room and board on the college website. There will be other costs, too, such as transportation, eating out, books and more. The college website may provide estimates for these costs, too.

Total costs

Add your tuition & fees and room & board and other costs to receive the total cost of your college education per year.

Financial aid

If you’ve filed your FAFSA and received financial aid information from the college, enter those amounts. Use only the amount from grants and scholarships, not loans. Your financial aid information will also tell you how much money you can borrow with federal loans such as the Parent PLUS loan. Unlike scholarships, loans will have to be paid back, so you will want to keep track of loans separately.

If you have not received financial aid information yet, use the Indiana College Costs Estimator to obtain an estimate based on your grades, tax information and more. Read more about the financial aid process if you are not sure if you have received financial aid information.

Other scholarships

Many students apply for and are awarded scholarships other than those listed in the financial aid package sent from colleges. Scholarships are gift aid and do not have to be paid back. You may apply for scholarships from nonprofit organizations, community foundations, your college, the state or federal government and local or nationwide businesses.

Read more about maximizing your scholarship opportunities and discover resources to help you search for scholarships.

Family contribution and savings

Your family may be able to contribute a certain amount towards your college education, or you may have a savings plan that can be used for college.

If you have filed your FAFSA or explored your college options with the Indiana College Costs Estimator, you will have received an Expected Family Contribution amount. This is the amount the government expects your family to contribute towards your education. It may or may not be close to what your family actually decides to pay.

Part-time work

If you know you will have a job, enter your expected earnings here. If you will be a full-time student (12 or more credit hours per semester), don’t plan on working more than 15 hours a week. Otherwise you may not have enough time left to excel at school, too.


After adding up financial aid, scholarships, family contribution and savings and any earnings from working, you may still need more money to cover your college costs. This amount can be covered by loans. Use up your federal loans before taking out private loans. Read more tips on reducing your college debt from Learn More Indiana.

Total payment

The total payment must equal your total costs. If the total payment is less than your total costs, you will need to take out additional loans.

Use your payment plan to see which college option is the smartest choice for you.

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