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What Does It Cost to Attend Wake Forest University?

Located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Wake Forest University is a very selective private research university known for strong liberal arts programs, as well as its open curriculum for select students. The university draws many talented students, but some may balk at the seemingly high cost.


Like most private institutions of its caliber, Wake Forest has a high list price, which may seem shocking to many students and their families. However, families should not assume that they’ll have to pay this list price. Most students receive at least some financial aid, including government, institutional, and merit assistance, often reducing the cost substantially.


Why Are College Costs Highly Variable?


College costs can vary greatly. Institutions generally publish the list price, which few students actually pay. Many receive varying degrees of financial aid to offset the cost, which depends mainly on their total family income, as well as other sources of revenue.


What Is the List Price at Wake Forest?


The list price is the published price of attending a college, including tuition, room, and board, which gives families a general idea of how much the college will cost them. At Wake Forest, the list price of attendance is $66,512 for in- and out-of-state students.


Generally speaking, the only families who should expect to pay this list price are those in the upper-income bracket (earning more than $175,000 annually) and whose students are not in the top 30 percent of Wake Forest admits.


What Is the Price With Financial Aid at Wake Forest?


Financial aid net factors in any merit- or need-based aid a student receives via grants or scholarships and deducts them from the list price of college. At Wake Forest, Sstudents who receive financial aid (with no merit aid) pay on average $55,989 per year.


Wake Forest’s Cost Based on Household Income


The more financial need a student’s family has, the more need-based financial aid a student will qualify for – resulting in a lower net cost of Wake Forest. Below are the average net prices Wake Forest families can expect to pay based on their income bracket.


Family Income Average Net Price
$0-$30,000 $10,818
$30,001-$48,000 $8,392*
$48,001-$75,000 $13,521
$75,001-$110,000 $29,042
Over $110,000 $44,330


* The above figures may not reflect the Pell Grants families receive from the federal government. Families whose incomes are between $0 and 30k may qualify for Federal Pell Grants, which limit the amount of financial aid paid by private colleges. For this reason, families with $0-30k may have higher tuition rates than those in the $30k-48k bracket.


What Is the Merit Aid Net Price at Wake Forest?


Merit scholarships are awarded based on achievements in areas such as academics, athletics, community services, and others. If a scholarship is strictly based on merit, that means the award does not take a student’s financial need into account.


Only a small number (3.2%) of Wake Forest students without financial need receive merit-based aid, with an average award of $985. This means that the average net price for Wake Forest students without need is $65,527, similar to the college’s list price.

How Many Students Take Out Loans at Wake Forest?


Loans factor into many students’ financial plans for affording college. Sixty-three percent of Wake Forest students take out student loans, and the average amount borrowed is $3,255 across four years.


Other Ways to Save for College


Financial aid can help students pay for college, but many still look for ways to save. One option is to secure a part-time or summer job or paid internship. Wake Forest assists students with finding jobs on- and off-campus in the surrounding Winston-Salem area.


Additionally, Wake Forest does offer a small number of merit-based scholarships recognizing the achievements of a select group of students, which can help offset the cost of attendance. Most of these scholarships don’t require separate applications. Scholarships are awarded to talented students and include the Reynolds scholarship for creative leaders, the Carswell scholarship recognizing students who exhibit “academic promise, leadership, and talent,” and others.


In addition, your student may qualify for prestigious scholarships just by taking a test. Those who take the PSAT are automatically entered for qualification for the National Merit Scholarship Program, which awards $2,500 to finalists. You can learn more through our post about how to qualify.


Student Outcomes for Wake Forest Graduates


Wake Forest boasts an impressive graduation rate: 87% of students graduate within six years. The average salary for a Wake Forest alum 10 years after graduation is  $63,800 per year.


Local Area Cost Considerations


The cost of living index — a theoretical measurement of the relative cost of living in a particular place accounting for factors like the price of housing, transportation, utilities, etc. — for Winston-Salem, NC, is 86.6. This indicates that is 13.4 percent cheaper than the national average cost of living.


Wake Forest students must live on campus for at least three years, and they are guaranteed housing for eight semesters. However, seniors may elect to live off campus. Rent is relatively affordable, with a one-bedroom costing $835/month on average and a two-bedroom renting for an average price of $1,005.


The minimum wage in North Carolina is the same as the federal rate of $7.25. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean hourly salary for the Winston-Salem Metropolitan Statistical Area was $21.59 in 2017. However, it is important to remember that this average accounts for all available occupations, including those requiring a degree.


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Short Bio
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab mix Hercules. She specializes in education, technology and career development. She also writes satire and humor, which has appeared in Slackjaw, Points in Case, Little Old Lady Comedy, Jane Austen’s Wastebasket, and Funny-ish. View her work and get in touch at: www.lauraberlinskyschine.com.