Boston University Tuition and Financial Aid


This guide is designed to answer one question for you: How are you going to afford Boston University?

You probably know that planning for expenses is an important part of the college application process. What you may not know is how many different things you need to keep track of to pay tuition and apply for financial aid.

Here's what we'll cover:

  • How much does Boston University tuition cost?
  • How much financial aid do students at Boston University usually get?
  • How much debt is typical for students at Boston University?
  • How much will Boston University cost YOU, and can you actually afford it?
  • Is Boston University a good value for you?
  • What are other schools that might be a better value than Boston University?

By learning more about expenses and aid, you’re already on the right path to managing college costs. Let’s get started!


School location: Boston, MA

This school is also known as: BU

How Much Does Boston University Cost?

Knowing what a school costs is Step #1 in managing college costs. There’s more to think about than just the tuition—you also have to factor in where you'll live, what you'll eat, and more while attending Boston University.

The "Cost of Attendance" is the total amount of money the average student has to pay, WITHOUT any financial aid, to attend a particular school. Think of it as a school’s sticker price. It includes not just Boston University tuition and fees, but also room, board, textbooks, and personal expenses.

Here’s the Cost of Attendance breakdown for Boston University:

  • Tuition and Fees $44880 $44880
  • Room $8930
  • Board $4690
  • Textbooks $1000
  • Other Expenses $1946

  • Typical Total Cost for On-Campus Students Typical Total Cost for On-Campus Students $61446 $61446
  • Typical Total Cost for Off-Campus Students Typical Total Cost for Off-Campus Students $61446 $61446

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How Much Financial Aid Do Students at Boston University Get?

The Cost of Attendance listed above might be intimidating. The good news is that most students don’t end up paying that full price to attend Boston University. Financial aid helps make up the difference between the Cost of Attendance and what families can actually afford.

Here we'll cover how many students get Boston University financial aid, what types of aid they get, and how much.


A Brief Intro to Financial Aid

Aid comes in many forms, including:

  • Need-based grants
  • Merit-based scholarships
  • Student loans

This financial aid comes from a few different places:

  • Federal aid comes from the federal government, or is subsidized by the federal government.
  • Institutional aid comes from your school itself.

Generally, it’s better for MORE students to receive HIGH amounts of financial aid—this means students pay less for college.

Let’s take a look at how Boston University compares to other schools.


Overall Aid

Let's start with the overall numbers. At Boston University, we know that:

62% of Students Get ANY Aid

This is 30% LOWER than the average for Private not-for-profit schools, which is 92%.

This could be bad news - fewer students getting aid could mean students are paying more at Boston University than they would at other similar schools. It could also mean students attending Boston University are wealthier and need less aid.

To break this apart, we'll next look at each type of aid and how much students get from each.


Grants and Scholarships

We’re focusing on grants and scholarships first because they’re the most important forms of financial aid. Grants and scholarships are better than loans because students don’t ever have to pay them back. The more grant/scholarship aid students receive at a particular school, the better off those students are in the long run.

At Boston University, we know that:

54% Get ANY Grant Money

This is 35% LOWER than the average for Private not-for-profit schools, which is 89%.

Although it’s useful to know how many students get grant aid, it’s also important to know how much grant aid people tend to receive. The bigger the average grant award, the better.

So how much grant money do students at Boston University tend to receive?

Average Grant Award: $27232

This is $10744 HIGHER than the average for Private not-for-profit schools, which is $16488.

Altogether, this is mixed news - at Boston University, FEWER students get aid, but the ones who do get MORE than average. If you qualify for aid, this can work out well, since you'll get a sizable award. But it might be harder for you to qualify for Boston University financial aid.


How Generous is Boston University’s Financial Aid?

The grant dollar amounts we’ve seen so far have included aid from all sources - both federal and institutional. Schools don’t have much control over how much federal aid students can qualify for (like Pell Grants), but they do their own financial aid dollars and how they’re used.

To figure out how strong Boston University’s own financial aid program is, we’ll look at how they award their own (non-federal) financial aid dollars. The more students receive aid directly from the school (otherwise known as institutional aid), and the bigger the award amounts, the better the financial aid program.

Let’s see how generous Boston University is with its students:

53% Get ANY School Grants

This is 29% LOWER than the average for Private not-for-profit schools, which is 82%.

Because Boston University gives a smaller percentage of its students institutional grants than similar schools, it may offer less competitive financial aid.

Some schools may claim to offer large amounts of aid to prospective students without advertising that much of this money may come in the form of student loans - money that you have to pay back. To figure out if this is the case, check out our following section on student loan debt at Boston University.


The amount of money that students actually get is just as important (if not more important) than the percent of students who get grants. If you receive a grant, you’ll want it to be big enough to do you some good.

Average School Grant: $26111

This is $12312 HIGHER than the average for Private not-for-profit schools, which is $13799.

Right away, it seems like Boston University offers more institutional aid than other schools. On the surface, this can mean that students who do receive institutional grants get a competitive amount, compared to other schools.

On the other hand, this can also mean that the school just costs more than the typical school of its type. If Boston University costs more, it makes sense for the average grant award to be higher.


Up to this point, we've looked entirely at grants for Boston University. Next, we'll do the same analysis for student loans, which is where student debt comes from.


How Much Debt is Typical for Students at Boston University?

Aside from grants, the other major way to pay for college is with student loans. Student loans aren’t free sums of money - you borrow a certain amount to attend Boston University, and then pay it back with smaller monthly payments after you graduate.

The more student loan money you borrow, the more debt you’ll end up with after graduation. Ideally, you want to minimize your student debt as much as possible. Less debt means less of a financial burden once you leave school.

It’s generally a bad sign if a school has many students taking out a lot of loans. This indicates that graduates have to worry about paying back big sums of money once they leave school.

To address the amount and type of debt that students take on, this section will cover:

  • Loan Overview
  • Federal Loans
  • Other Loans

Let’s see what students at Boston University have to deal with:

Loan Overview

First, let’s talk about how many students at Boston University actually have to take out any student loans at all. The ideal goal is to graduate with little to no debt.

It’s very common for college grads in the US to graduate with some debt, but high percentages of students taking on loans at a particular school is a big red flag. In contrast, low percentages of students with loans is a sign that Boston University tuition is affordable.

So how many students actually end up taking out loans at Boston University?

48% Have ANY Loans

This is 18% lower than the average for Private not-for-profit schools, which is 66%.

It’s a good sign that lower numbers of students take out loans at Boston University. It doesn’t necessarily mean that students end up with lower amounts of debt - we’ll get to that question very shortly - but it suggests that Boston University is more affordable for the average student.

Next, we'll look at exactly HOW much debt the average person takes out while in school.


Federal Loans

Now that you have a handle on the basic loan information for Boston University, we’ll get into some more nitty-gritty information on the types and amounts of loans that students typically have.

We’ll start with federal loans because, in general, federal loans are preferable to private loans. Federal loans tend to have low interest rates, which means they cost less in the long run. They may come with other perks (like subsidization or even options for loan forgiveness).

High percentages or amounts of federal loans still isn’t a great sign - again, you don’t want to see students burdened with too much debt. Generally, schools with strong financial aid programs will have students with more federal loans than private loans.

Let’s see how Boston University stacks up:

47% Have Federal Loans

At Boston University, 47% of all students take out federal loans. This is 18% LOWER than the average percent of students for Private not-for-profit schools, which is 65%.


Average Federal Loan: $6550

At Boston University, the average annual federal loan amount is $6550. This amount is $473 MORE than the average for Private not-for-profit schools, which is $6077.


Other Private Loans

Other loans, or private loans, are the last resource students turn to when paying for college. They’re the least preferable form of financial aid because they have higher interest rates and cost students the most money in the long run.

Generally, the fewer students who take private loans, and the lower the amount of the loan, the more affordable Boston University is.

Let’s take a look at the percentage of students at Boston University with non-federal loans:

10% Have Private Loans

At Boston University, 10% of students take out private loans. This is 1% HIGHER than the average for Private not-for-profit schools, which is 9%


Just as important as the percentage of students with private loans is the average loan amount. The smaller the average loan amount, the better:

Average Private Loan: $18495

The average private loan amount at Boston University is $18495. This is $7051 HIGHER than the average for Private not-for-profit schools, which is $11444.


The percentage of students getting federal loans is greater than those getting private loans, which is a good sign. This means lower-interest federal loans are usually enough to pay for Boston University.

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What Would It Cost YOU to Attend Boston University?

Finally, we get to the bottom line: what will Boston University actually cost YOU? Every family has a different situation, and depending on your income level, you'll have to pay more or less to go to college.

What is Net Price, and Why Does it Matter?

Above, we've covered Boston University's Cost of Attendance (tuition, room and board, books, and more). We also covered its typical financial aid in grants, loans, and scholarships.

The Net Price is the total cost minus the total aid given. In other words, this is the price you have to pay to the school out of pocket. The lower the school's cost, and the more aid you get, the lower the Net Price.

We'll cover two ways to get your Net Price for Boston University - the fast way, and the precise way.

Net Price: The Quick and Easy Way

If you want a quick, general idea of your annual Net Price at Boston University, here's a handy chart showing the net price of real students. All you need is your family income.

If your family makes between... Your Net Price will likely be around...
$0 - $30,000 $23783
$30,001 - $48,000 $23262
$48,001 - $75,000 $27248
$75,001 - $110,000 $32141
$110,000 and up $44602

Note that these values may be a few years old, and today's prices may be a bit higher.

As we'll discuss next, your exact Net Price will depend on other factors like the number of family members and total assets, but this represents the typical Net Price.


Net Price: The Most Accurate Method

Most schools have an updated Net Price calculator available. To find it, just google "Boston University Net Price Calculator" - the official tool should be one of the top search results.

Often the school will ask for more information than just income:

  • The number of people in your household
  • The number of family members in college
  • Parental wages, income, and assets
  • Student wages, income, and assets

This will take 10-15 minutes to complete, and you'll get a specific net price that's more accurate than the table above.


Can You Afford to Attend Boston University?

Once you have a Net Price estimate, you’ll want to figure out whether your family can afford to pay Boston University tuition and costs. Once again, the Net Price is the total cost of attending, minus the aid you can expect to get (grants and scholarships). It's the amount you'd have to cover yourself.

The US government has come up with a standardized way to calculate how much a typical family can afford to pay without help. They call this the Expected Family Contribution, or EFC.

As an example, a family that brings home $80,000 in income before taxes, with no assets and no other children in college, has an EFC of around $7,000. This is the amount the government thinks that family can reasonably pay, and the school will have to step in and cover the rest.

Colleges use this number as a guideline to decide how much aid to give you, but it's just a guideline. Some schools will be stingier with aid, and you'll have to pay more than the government's suggested EFC.

So we're going to calculate your EFC and compare it to Boston University's Net Price. If the Net Price is higher than the EFC, the school will cost more than you can typically afford. It's a simple equation:

Net Price - Expected Family Contribution = Deficit (extra cost you would need to cover)

We've constructed a simple tool to figure out whether Boston University is affordable for you:


Affordability Calculator

This tool will calculate your Expected Family Contribution, or EFC. In order to calculate this amount, we need just 4 pieces of information from you. We won't save this data.

1) What is your family’s gross income before taxes?

2) What is your family’s net worth? Include cash, investments, and net worth of businesses. Don't include the value of your home.

3) How many people are in your family in total?


4) Finally, how many people in your family are currently in college, including you but not including your parents?


Your Affordability Results

According to the information you’ve entered above, your Expected Family Contribution should be about $. This is the amount that the federal government thinks you can afford to pay for school.

Please note this tool is only an approximation, and your personal situation may cause your EFC to vary. The most accurate way to get EFC is to use the FAFSA Caster tool, which can take 10-15 minutes to complete.

The typical Net Price at Boston University for your income level is $.

The difference between the Net Price and your Expected Family Contribution is $ , which is the amount you’d have to make up for in outside scholarships, loans, a job, or other methods of payment. , which is negative and means the net price is below what your family can comfortably afford.

Unfortunately, it looks like your estimated Net Price to attend Boston University is significantly greater than your EFC. This means Boston University may be more expensive than what your family can comfortably afford by at least $10,000 per year.

This doesn’t mean that it’s financially impossible to attend this school. Your EFC may be higher from our quick estimate above. Also, you may be able to cover much of your expenses with loans, outside scholarships, or a job.

But over four years, $ is still a sizable amount, and if you have to take out loans, it may take many years to pay off.

Therefore, it's still worthwhile to consider your options. Is Boston University really the best value education? Are there more affordable schools that can also give you a better education? We'll discuss this next.

It looks like your estimated Net Price to attend Boston University is higher than your calculated Expected Family Contribution, but by a reasonable amount that's between $5,000 and $10,000 per year.

This is good news! Paying for Boston University may be feasible with minor cost-cutting, a part-time job, or outside scholarships.

Over four years, $ is still a significant amount, but a manageable amount to pay off even if you took out loans.

It's still useful to use the school's official Net Price calculator to figure this out, but things are looking good. And even though you can afford Boston University, it's still worthwhile to consider whether there are any schools that will offer even more value. We'll discuss this next.

Hooray! It looks like your estimated Net Price to attend Boston University is just a tad higher than your Expected Family Contribution, below $5,000 a year.

This is great news! It means attending Boston University is feasible for you by taking out a small amount of loans, or possibly working a part-time job. Over four years, $ is still a significant amount to cover, but manageable to pay off with your job after college, even if you took out loans.

It's still useful to search for the official Net Price calculator at Boston University to get the most accurate estimate, but you're in good shape.

Even though you can afford Boston University, when making such an important financial decision, it’s important to think about the actual value of the education. Are there any schools of higher value than Boston University? We'll find out more below.

Great news! Your Net Price to attend Boston University is less than your Expected Family Contribution. This means your family should be able to afford the cost of college without much of a problem.

You can pay for college through a variety of ways. For example, your family can pay out of pocket, and you'll graduate without loans. Or, if you want to be more independent, you can still take out loans or take a part-time job to pay for part of the costs. In any case, you should be in good financial shape to attend Boston University.

Since we've been using estimations so far, it's still useful for you to look for Boston University's official Net Price calculator to double-check our math.

Even though you can comfortably afford Boston University, it’s important to think about the value of the education you’ll be receiving as well. What schools offer a better education than Boston University or are even more affordable? We'll find out below.


Finally: Is This Price Really Worth It?

Chances are, college won't be cheap. Even if you have a few top choice schools in mind like Boston University, it's still useful to explore broadly.

A few questions to ponder:

  • How much better off will you be if you attend Boston University as opposed to a similar, but cheaper, school?
  • Have you considered a range of private and public schools? Big and small?
  • What if you didn't attend college at all? (This is extreme, but just worth considering even for a second.
These are the big picture questions to consider when we talk about the value of a college education.


Here's our take: college will be a really important stage in your development. Going to a better, more reputable college will usually pay off in the long run. By going to a better college, you'll be surrounded by a more interesting community, find it easier to land a job, and open up opportunities.

To determine the value of Boston University, we're going to rely on reputable ranking lists. These consider factors like reputation, student selectivity, income after graduating, and more to determine the value of a school.


Value Judgment

So how does Boston University stack up?

Very High Value

Based on its reputation, Boston University is a very high value school, placing it in the top 10% of schools.

Boston University gets this verdict primarily on the strength of its academic quality. As a nationally-recognized school, you're bound to have a rewarding college experience. Not only will the community be exciting and talented, you'll also carry the reputation of the school forward into your career.

However, Boston University didn't appear in the best value rankings we used. This could be because of a higher tuition, less generous financial aid policies, or really just more students who come from wealthier families.

If you can get in, we still believe Boston University is a great value. You may have to work harder to pay for college, but it'll pay off in the long run. You might also consider trying to get into higher value schools - more on that below.

How Do You Get In?

Since Boston University has a strong reputation, you'll have to build a strong application to get in. You'll need competitive test scores, grades, and activities to stand out among thousands of applicants.

How do you compare to other students accepted to Boston University? Check out our Admissions Guide to Boston University.



What Other Schools Should You Consider?

Your next step should be to get a better idea of costs and aid availability at similar schools. If you’re interested in Boston University, you should check out some other high-value schools that could give you more bang for your buck. Get started here to check both in-state and out-of-state schools that might provide a better value.



Better Value Schools

Finally, we're going to look at schools that might offer a better value than Boston University. To compile this list, we first find schools at similar academic levels, so you have a similar chance at getting in. Then we select schools that better value for you, by being more affordable or having a higher quality of education

It’s hard to know exactly what schools will be a great value for you without information on your family income. Enter your family income here for the best recommendations for schools:

In-State Schools

There are a lot of potential financial benefits that come with attending a school close to home. For example, in-state public schools tend to have subsidized tuitions for state residents. Students may also have the chance to save money if they choose to stay at home.

If you’re looking for good deals on schools in your state, you should start by checking out the following colleges and universities:

School Name Location SAT ACT GPA
Smith College Northampton, MA 1430 32 3.84
Clark University Worcester, MA 1293 30 3.67
Harvard University Cambridge, MA 1520 34 4.18
Brandeis University Waltham, MA 1400 31 3.83
Williams College Williamstown, MA 1479 33 4.07
Smith College Northampton, MA 1430 32 3.84
Clark University Worcester, MA 1293 30 3.67
Harvard University Cambridge, MA 1520 34 4.18
Brandeis University Waltham, MA 1400 31 3.83
University of Massachusetts Amherst Amherst, MA 1290 29 3.9
Smith College Northampton, MA 1430 32 3.84
Clark University Worcester, MA 1293 30 3.67
Harvard University Cambridge, MA 1520 34 4.18
Brandeis University Waltham, MA 1400 31 3.83
Boston College Chestnut Hill, MA 1420 33 3.96
Smith College Northampton, MA 1430 32 3.84
Clark University Worcester, MA 1293 30 3.67
Harvard University Cambridge, MA 1520 34 4.18
Brandeis University Waltham, MA 1400 31 3.83
Babson College Babson Park, MA 1370 30 3.86
Smith College Northampton, MA 1430 32 3.84
Clark University Worcester, MA 1293 30 3.67
Harvard University Cambridge, MA 1520 34 4.18
Emerson College Boston, MA 1300 29 3.73
College of the Holy Cross Worcester, MA 1345 30 3.82

Out-of-State Schools

You can still get a good value on your education if you choose to attend an out-of-state school, especially if you qualify for generous financial aid.

If you’re interested in getting an education out-of-state, start by checking out the following colleges and universities:

School Name Location SAT ACT GPA
Washington University in St. Louis St. Louis, MO 1520 34 4.15
Wake Forest University Winston Salem, NC 1390 31 3.9
Grinnell College Grinnell, IA 1460 32 4.03
Miami University (Ohio) Oxford, OH 1310 29 3.78
University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA 1440 32 3.79
Washington University in St. Louis St. Louis, MO 1520 34 4.15
Grinnell College Grinnell, IA 1460 32 4.03
Miami University (Ohio) Oxford, OH 1310 29 3.78
Furman University Greenville, SC 1309 29 3.75
Franklin & Marshall College Lancaster, PA 1360 30 3.84
Washington University in St. Louis St. Louis, MO 1520 34 4.15
Grinnell College Grinnell, IA 1460 32 4.03
Miami University (Ohio) Oxford, OH 1310 29 3.78
Furman University Greenville, SC 1309 29 3.75
Harvey Mudd College Claremont, CA 1530 35 4.17
Washington University in St. Louis St. Louis, MO 1520 34 4.15
Grinnell College Grinnell, IA 1460 32 4.03
Miami University (Ohio) Oxford, OH 1310 29 3.78
Furman University Greenville, SC 1309 29 3.75
Cornell University Ithaca, NY 1480 34 4.07
Washington University in St. Louis St. Louis, MO 1520 34 4.15
Wake Forest University Winston Salem, NC 1390 31 3.9
Grinnell College Grinnell, IA 1460 32 4.03
Miami University (Ohio) Oxford, OH 1310 29 3.78
Furman University Greenville, SC 1309 29 3.75

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