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What Does It Really Cost to Attend St. Olaf College?

If your student enjoys brisk and snowy winters, the idea of going to school in Minnesota may be appealing. And while in-state tuition in the North Star State averages $15,623, private schools tend to come with a high price tag.


Located in Northfield, St. Olaf College is a four-year liberal arts school rooted in the Lutheran faith. Although the school boasts a high sticker price, prospective students should note that the net price to attend St. Olaf is often significantly more affordable. Read on to learn why college costs can vary so dramatically, along with what you can expect to pay at St. Olaf.


Why College Costs Are Highly Variable


Although St. Olaf College is a private school, that doesn’t mean students will necessarily pay far more to attend this institution than they would a public school. Because private schools traditionally have larger endowments, they often have more funding to give out in the form of scholarships and grants. It’s important to do your research before determining what school is right for your family.


So how do you figure out what your family is likely to pay for college? You can calculate the financial aid net price by adding up the value of all forms of financial aid, including government aid, institutional grants, and merit scholarships. Then, subtract the total from the list price.

What Is the List Price at St. Olaf College?


St. Olaf has a list price of $56,160 for the 2016-2017 academic year. While this number might scare off applicants, it’s worth noting that the top 30% of accepted students at this school generally don’t pay the full sticker cost, as they may receive merit scholarships. Additionally, families earning less than $175,000 annually tend to pay a lower rate.

What Is the St. Olaf College Financial Aid Net Price?


Most families can expect to pay significantly less than the list price to attend St. Olaf College. For the 2016-2017 school year, net prices at St. Olaf averaged $47,568. Because the school is private, both in-state and out-of-state applicants paid the same rates.

What Is the Family Income-Based Cost of Attending St. Olaf?


Net prices at St. Olaf varied considerably based on family income levels. Below are the average net prices per family salary:


Family Income Average Net Price
$0-$30,000 $10,929*
$30,001-$48,000 $10,012
$48,001-$75,000 $15,816
$75,001-$110,000 $23,307
$110,000 $34,295

* 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.

How Much Merit Aid Do St. Olaf College Students Receive?


St. Olaf College applicants can feel secure in the knowledge that a majority of students receive merit aid. With a ranking of 295 out of 1000, St. Olaf scored well on our study of merit aid generosity. Currently, the school provides merit-based aid to 76.1% of students, with an average award amount of $11,789.


Without financial aid, the average net price for St. Olaf students was $44,371.

How Many St. Olaf College Students Take Out Loans?


If a gap exists between expected family contribution and net tuition price, students may opt to take out loans to finance their degrees. St. Olaf is on the lower end of the spectrum when it comes to students who borrow money. Currently, just 36% of St. Olaf undergrads take out federal loans, with an average amount of $4,050 per student over the course of their college career.

Student Outcomes at St. Olaf College


Assessing student outcomes for the schools your student is considering is a good way to evaluate potential return on investment. For St. Olaf College, the six-year graduation rate is 88%, indicating that students have a solid shot of finishing school on schedule. A decade after commencement, the average St. Olaf grad was earning $50,400 annually.

Local Area Cost Considerations


Here’s some good news for St. Olaf students: the school is located in Northfield, Minnesota, which has a cost of living index on par with the average U.S. city. The cost of living index is 111.8, revealing that the area is fairly typical with regard to pricing. Expect to pay $780 for a one-bedroom apartment, $990 for a two-bedroom, and $1400 for a three-bedroom rental.


Working on the side can help students pay for housing and other expenses. Effective for 2019, the minimum hourly rate is $9.86. If students want to stay in the area after graduation, the average Northfield resident earns $46,538 a year.

Ways to Save Money on College


If your student wants to work part-time while attending school, they may be able to choose between on-campus and off-campus jobs. Also known as work-study jobs, on-campus positions often enable students to work in their major departments, staff the dining hall, or man the library aide desks. There can be a decent amount of free time in work-study jobs, allowing students to prepare for classes while earning money.


For students who prefer not to work while going to school, applying for independent scholarships can help make college more affordable. The National Merit Scholarship program, for example, honors the top 1 percent of PSAT test takers. Around 15,000 students a year enjoy the financial benefits and recognition of this program. Additionally, students can visit the St. Olaf College website to learn about other scholarship opportunities.


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Short Bio
A graduate of the Master of Professional Writing program at USC, April Maguire taught freshman composition while earning her degree. Over the years, she has worked as a writer, editor, tutor, and content manager. Currently, she operates a freelance writing business and lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their three rowdy cats.