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What Does it Really Cost to Attend Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)?

Choosing what college to go to is one of the most important decisions your student will have to make. It can also be one of the most daunting. There are many factors that will contribute to their decision: size, location, available degree programs, and extracurricular opportunities. One your family may consider heavily is finances. Understanding the costs that make up a college education early on is key to choosing a college your family can afford.


Predicting the exact cost for your student at a given school is difficult, but understanding how the school structures their aid and what expenses you might be expected to take on will equip your student to choose a school that is a good academic and social fit, as well as a financial one. In this series, we break down the various factors that go into a college’s cost—like family finances, resident versus non-resident tuition, and more—to prepare your family for the application process. Read on to learn about what an education at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) could cost for your student.


Why Are College Costs So Variable?


The price you’ll see listed on a college’s website or in a brochure is what we call a list price, or a sticker price. This is the amount a family would pay if they received no financial assistance whatsoever. However, one of the reasons that college costs are so difficult to predict is because the price a family pays is dependent on their income and a variety of other financial factors captured with FAFSA and the CSS profile. The list price doesn’t take these factors into account, so it is typically best used to compare what a school includes in the costs; usually, this means things like tuition, room and board, and activity fees, but vary from school to school. Looking at what list prices include across different school can help you begin to compare costs.


However, because most families do not pay list price, comparing net prices—or how much a family would typically pay out of pocket (including loans)—is often more useful. Considering net costs instead of list costs will better prepare your family to decide between schools from a financial standpoint.


Three main factors play into the net cost: federal, state, and local government aid; institutional financial aid; and merit scholarships. Predicting how much your student will receive in any of these categories is difficult, but looking at the overall generosity of and average net costs at a school can help determine if it would be an affordable option.


What is the List Price at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute?


RPI is a private school, so tuition is the same whether you live in- or out-of-state. The list price for the 2016-2017 school year was $68,244.


Typically, only wealthy families with an income greater than $175,000 whose students are not in the top 30% of accepted students should expect to pay this price.


What is the Net Cost of Attending Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute?


Net cost depends on the three aforementioned factors: government aid, institutional aid, and merit aid. Merit aid will depend on the profile of the students accepted that year, so we’ll look at net cost after only government and institutional aid.


The average net cost of attending Rensselaer in 2016-2017 was $58,865 with financial aid only.


What is the Income-Based Cost of Attending Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute?


Income is the biggest driving factor in net cost. Average net costs for RPI are broken down by family income below:


Family Income Average Net Cost
$0-$30,000 $21,531
$30,001-$48,000 $21,787
$48,001-$75,000 $28,882
$75,001-$110,000 $33,166
$110,000+ $40,214


RPI has a net cost calculator available on their website.


How Much Merit Aid is Typical at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute?


Merit aid is another potential source of aid for your student, and a way to bring down the net cost of attendance. Award amounts vary greatly between applicants and depends on your student’s profile in comparison to others accepted in their class. Looking at the overall generosity of a school’s merit aid can be a helpful metric.


Around 64% of students without need receive merit aid, for an average award of $13,388. Students are automatically considered for merit scholarships with their RPI application.

How Many Students Take Out Loans to Attend Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute?     


About 59% of RPI undergraduates take out federal loans. Federal loans are often preferable to private loans due to favorable repayment plans and low interest rates. The average federal student loan amount per undergrad student is $6,174.


Student Outcomes


Around 80% of RPI students graduate within six years of enrolling. Ten years after graduation, the average alumni salary is $82,000.


Local Area Cost Considerations


Besides the list or even net costs incurred while attending college, your student will have other costs no matter where they decide to go. These are the incidental costs that exist everywhere, like groceries, travel, or rent if your student decides to live off-campus.


Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is located in Troy, NY. Troy has a population of about 50,000, and is known for its diverse economy, educated population, and nearby recreation. However, some note that the winters in this part of New York are harsh winters and few entertainment options.


Troy has a cost of living index of 93.7. This puts it just under the U.S. average of 100. The lowest factor is housing at 76.8 and healthcare at 91.9, while the highest factor is utilities at 107.6.


If your student decides to live off-campus during their time at RPI, they can expect to pay $700 for a studio apartment, $825 for a one-bedroom, $1,015 for a two-bedroom, or $1,270 for a three-bedroom.


Troy is part of the Capital Region of New York, so the minimum wage was increased to $11.10 an hour at the beginning of 2019. Minimum wage will continue to increase each year until it reaches $15 an hour.


Other Ways to Help Fund a College Education


Besides government aid, institutional aid, and merit aid scholarships, there are other ways your student can fund their education. RPI is a sponsor in the National Merit Scholarship, which your student will be considered for automatically if they have the qualifying PSAT scores in their junior or equivalent years. Your student should then indicate RPI is their first choice school on the National Merit paperwork. RPI also offers resources for finding outside scholarships on their website. Eligible New York state residents can also apply for the Tuition Assistance Program.


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Short Bio
Anna Ravenelle is a graduate of Cornell University, where she studied English with a concentration in Creative Writing. After spending two application cycles in the CollegeVine applications division, she now uses her admissions experience to help a greater number of students. She resides in New York but her heart has never left New Hampshire, where she grew up.