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What Does It Cost to Attend Macalester College?

A recent study from Sallie Mae made one thing particularly clear—Americans believe in the importance of a college degree. Just look at the numbers: 77% of students and parents believe a college degree is more important than it used to be, while 83% of families maintain that a student will earn more money with a college degree than without one. In fact, the average median starting salary range expected of college graduates by students and parents is $40,000-$59,000.


Although students and parents believe in the benefit of a college education, the rising expense of school, especially when looking at highly ranked private institutions like Macalester College, remains on the top of their minds. According to that same Sallie Mae study, the number one factor looked at while researching schools is cost, with the most important financial consideration being financial aid.


Discovering what a college such as Macalester will cost is more complex than simply looking up the institution’s list price, as it fails to account for a variety of factors—such as federal, state, and local aid, institutional grants, and merit scholarships—unique to an individual student that will affect the out-of-pocket cost of college.


When comparing the list price of colleges, the use of net cost is preferred. Net cost accounts for any financial aid and scholarships awarded to a student and deducts them from the school’s list price to provide a much more accurate representation of the real cost of college.


Macalester College’s List Price


The list price, also referred to as the cost of attendance, at Macalester College for both in- and out-of-state students was $64,007 in 2016-2017. List price includes the expense of tuition, room, and board.


If your head is spinning at the high published price of Macalester, let us help put your mind at east. The majority of Macalester students do not pay full price to attend the college. Those who do pay full price are typically from well-off families with incomes greater than $175,000 a year who were not in the top 30% academically of accepted students.


How Does Financial Aid Play into Macalester College’s Net Price?


Based on 2016-2017’s numbers, the average price of Macalester with financial aid—including both need-based and merit-based financial aid from the government as well as the college—was $54,093 for both in- and out-of-state students.


Macalester College Cost Based on Household Income


A general rule of thumb is that the greater a student’s financial need, the more need-based financial aid a student will receive. Below are the average net prices for a Macalester student based on household income:


Family Income Average Net Price
Below $30,000 $16,848
$30,001-$48,000 $14,378*
$48,001-$75,000 $17,423
$75,001-$110,000 $24,111
$110,000+ $38,132

*The figures listed above don’t account for the Pell Grants families receive from the federal government. Students whose family incomes are between $0 and $30k may receive Federal Pell Grants, which lower the amount of financial aid private colleges pay them. In this sense, families in the $0 to $30k bracket may pay higher tuition costs than those in the $30k-48k bracket.

How Much Merit Aid do Macalester College Students Receive?


Merit aid is awarded regardless of a student’s financial need for a variety of reasons including academic excellence, athletic talent, and artistic skill. Approximately half of Macalester students (47.4%) without financial need are awarded merit aid. The average amount of merit aid received by a student who doesn’t qualify for financial aid at Macalester is $7,103, which brings the cost of Macalester down to $56,904 for both in- and out-of-state students.

How Many Macalester College Students Take Out Loans?


Many students take out loans to help pay for college and students at Macalester are no exception. 67% of Macalester students have loans with the average federal student loan per undergraduate being $3,517.


Student Outcomes at Macalester College


Given the high price tag of a school like Macalester, it’s important to know if the investment in time and money is worthwhile. Macalester graduates students at a high rate—87% of its students graduate within six years—and the average salary for Macalester alumni ten years after graduation is $47,600. For comparison, the average salary in St. Paul, Minnesota, (home of Macalester) is $52,125.


Local Cost of Living Considerations


In addition to the expense of college, the general cost of living in an area can influence how much school really costs. St. Paul has a cost of living index of 109.2, meaning that it’s 9.2% more expensive to live there than the national average.


All Macalester first-year students and sophomores are required to live on campus in one of the college’s wide variety of housing options that range from residence halls to themed living communities. Juniors and seniors who choose to live off campus will find the cost of housing in St. Paul is slightly higher (12%) than the national average. Here is what students can expect to pay in rent for an apartment in St. Paul:


  • 1 bedroom: $897
  • 2 bedroom: $1,129
  • 3 bedroom: $1,603


Other Ways to Save During College


Many students will choose to work a part-time job during college. Macalester College employs roughly 1,600 students through the Federal-Work-Study-Program, which allows students to build professional skills while earning money to help pay for their education. The minimum wage in Minnesota is $9.86 an hour, more than $2 higher than the federal minimum wage ($7.25 an hour). Macalester work-study positions have a three-tiered pay scale, ranging from $9.86 to $10.06.


For students who don’t qualify for work-study, St. Paul and its sister city, Minneapolis, offer nearly endless opportunities for students looking for part-time work. For example, the Mall of America is less than 10 miles away from Macalester and is home to over 500 stores and 50 restaurants. According to Indeed, retail associates in St. Paul earn $12.11 an hour on average, while servers earn $9.99 an hour.


Another great way for students to save on college is by applying for scholarships. One such scholarship to consider is the National Merit Scholarship. National Merit Scholarships are awarded to students who score highly on the PSA/NMSQT—another reason to take this test seriously. Read our blog How to Qualify for the National Merit Scholarship Program to learn more about this prestigious award.


Curious about your chances of acceptance to your dream school? Our free chancing engine takes into account your GPA, test scores, extracurriculars, and other data to predict your odds of acceptance at over 500 colleges across the U.S. We’ll also let you know how you stack up against other applicants and how you can improve your profile. Sign up for your free CollegeVine account today to get started!

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.