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What Does It Cost to Attend Bowdoin College?

Sticker shock is a common reaction when looking at world-class institutions such as Bowdoin College. Costing $65,590 for tuition, room, and board in 2016-2017 for both in- and out-of-state students, the expense can be staggering to consider. However, the fact is that very few students pay full price for college—meaning many institutions are more affordable than they seem.


More important than a university’s listed price is its net price. The net price of college is the listed price minus any grants, scholarships, and educational tax benefits a student has earned—which can be broken down even further to account for federal, state, and local government aid, institutional financial aid, and merit scholarships.


Because the total net price of a college is based on an individual’s circumstance and the college’s financial aid policies, the net price of a school will be unique to every student and give them a much more realistic idea of how much college will cost. Due to a large number of variables—for example, one school might offer a lot more financial aid than another—there is the possibility of a school with a high list price being less expensive than a college with a lower published price.  


Keep reading to learn more about the cost of attending Bowdoin College—and if Bowdoin is your student’s dream school, make sure to check out The Ultimate Guide to Applying to Bowdoin College.


The List Price of Bowdoin College


As mentioned, the list price for a year’s tuition, room, and board at Bowdoin College was $65,590 in 2016-2017 for both in-state and out-of-state students. Typically, those paying full price for college are from wealthy families making more than $175,000 a year where the student was not in the top 30% of the students accepted at the college academically. With the exception of this small minority, the majority of students qualify for a combination of scholarships, grants, and financial aid—lowering the net price of attending the Bowdoin College.


Financial Aid Net Price  


Calculating the net price of Bowdoin College considering solely financial aid, the cost is just under $10,000 less than the published price, with the average net cost for both in-state and out-of-state students being $55,657. In contrast, the average net price for students without need, who don’t qualify for financial aid, is $65,568—roughly the same as the published price.


Cost Based on Family Income


While those who don’t need financial help to pursue an education at Bowdoin College pay close to the sticker price, students with greater financial needs pay far less than the published price. In fact, the average cost of Bowdoin College varies greatly based on the family income of a student. For example, below is a list of what the average net price of Bowdoin is for various family income levels:


  • Average net price for families with an income below $30,000: $6,822
  • Average net price for families with an income between $30,001-$48,000: $8,525
  • Average net price for families with an income between $48,001-$75,000: $11,057
  • Average net price for families with an income between $75,001-$110,000: $19,367
  • Average net price for families with an income of more than $110,000: $34,142


Merit Aid Net Price


Merit aid is financial aid that’s not based on financial need and is commonly awarded as a scholarship based on achievement or skill in academics, athletics, or arts. Merit aid net price is the published price of a college or university, less the amount of merit aid awarded.


The college awards minimal merit aid—only 2.2% of the students without financial need receive aid—and the average merit aid awarded for a student without need is $22.  


Student Loans and Debt


39% of students attending Bowdoin College will take a student loan as part of their financial aid package. The average federal student loan per undergraduate student at Bowdoin is $2,740 per academic year.

Local Area Cost of Living Considerations


Brunswick, Maine, home of Bowdoin College, is located roughly 30 minutes outside of Portland, Maine (the state’s largest city), and offers students a diverse amount of cultural and outdoor activities. Nationally, Brunswick is a little higher-than-average place to live, with a cost of living index of 112—meaning Brunswick is 12% more expensive to live in than the national average.


However, there is value in Brunswick when compared to the major cities on this section of the seacoast. For example, Portland, Maine, has a cost of living index of 116, and Portsmouth, New Hampshire, has a cost of living index of 141.6.


Average Apartment Rental


All first-year and sophomore students attending Bowdoin College are required to live on campus. Some qualifying juniors and seniors are allowed to live off campus, although this privilege can be revoked at any time if a student fails to meet the prerequisites or comply with the school’s expectations. Before moving off campus, students must petition the college for permission to do so.


If a student is granted permission to live off campus, they can expect to pay $990 for a one-bedroom apartment and $1,265 for a two-bedroom apartment in the area around Brunswick, Maine, although prices will vary depending on a variety of factors.  




The average minimum wage in Maine is $11 per hour. The city of Brunswick’s lively downtown offers numerous opportunities for employment within close distance of campus, while Portland and the numerous outlet stores of Freeport are within a short drive. According to Indeed, the average wage for a retail sales associate in Portland is $13.27.




College is an investment and even full-paying attendees of Bowdoin College can expect a positive outcome from their education. Bowdoin graduates an impressive 94% of students within six years, and, on average alumni earn an annual salary of $65,000 ten years after graduation.


Other Ways to Save


There are numerous other ways to save money while at Bowdoin College. Many students will choose to work a part-time job while attending college, and the vibrant service economy and a low unemployment rate of the Portland metro area affords numerous opportunities. Bowdoin College’s career planning department also provides a path for students to connect with jobs and internships offered by alumni and partner employers.


Bowdoin College supports National Merit Scholarships for finalists who name Bowdoin College as their first choice institution. Bowdoin National Merit Scholars who are eligible for financial aid receive a $2,000 renewable award, while students who aren’t in financial need receive a $1,000 renewable award. Students awarded a National Merit Scholarship are still eligible to receive grants from Bowdoin. Learn more about National Merit Scholarships at Bowdoin College.


Students at Bowdoin are also welcome to pursue scholarships outside of a National Merit Scholarship; however, they can affect any aid awarded. Consult the Student Aid Office to address any concerns with outside scholarships.


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Short Bio
A graduate of Northeastern University with a degree in English, Tim Peck currently lives in Concord, New Hampshire, where he balances a freelance writing career with the needs of his two Australian Shepherds to play outside.