The Financial Side of Naropa: Tuition, Loans, and Work Options

Today I received a letter from Naropa regarding my financial aid award, and what my estimated cost of attendance will be.  I thought this would be a good time to talk about the financial side of Naropa’s TCP program because, well, grad school is really expensive.

Now, before you panic, I will point out that the program is actually not that expensive compared to other grad programs.  While it varies by program (For instance, the Art Therapy program is about $3000 more per year than the Transpersonal Counseling Psychology, most of the numbers will be in the same ballpark.

So first things first.  How much does the Naropa TCP Program cost?  While it probably changes from year to year, here’s the “expected cost of attendance” for a TCP student for the 2012-2013 academic year:

Tuition and Fees…………………..$20,460
Room and Board…………………….$8,902
Books and Materials………………..$1,200
Personal and Miscellaneous……..$3,550
Estimated Cost of Attendance….$35,412

Of course, looking at that number, it’s easy to get a little freaked out.  If the estimated cost of attendance per year is over $35,000, that means that a student can expect to spend over $100,000 on this program before it’s over.  But you have to remember that this includes all living expenses, and that the living expense estimates are not always accurate.

For instance, I currently live with two other people.  I live in south Boulder, which is fairly inexpensive, and my share of rent is $300 per month.  Over the course of 12 months, that only comes to $3,600, which is over $5000 less than Naropa’s estimate.  Similarly, enrollment costs at Naropa include a bus pass, which is good on all public transportation in Boulder and surrounding areas (including to/from Denver).  So if you live in town, or in a nearby town, and you don’t mind buses, you might not spend a penny of that estimated $1,300.

Another really important point is that graduate programs are used to dealing with people who are living on their own, buying their own groceries, and making their own car payments (not to mention payments on previous student loans).  There aren’t as many hours of class time expected, and even though there is a lot of homework, it’s very possible to work a part-time job while in school.  According to Naropa’s financial aid office, there are even some students who work a full 40 hours per week.  And while I wouldn’t recommend working that much unless you have no other choice, it’s very possible to work 20-25 hours per week during the school year.

Finding a job in this economy when in a new town might be a bit daunting, but luckily Naropa has this covered as well.  The university offers “graduate assistantships,” which are basically like work study for grad students.  However, unlike work study, these positions pay more than the $8.00-$9.00 per hour that work study jobs offer.  Instead, they pay $7000 over the course of the academic year, coming to about $17.00 or $18.00 per hour instead.  Much better!  These jobs are usually at one of the Naropa campuses, so transportation isn’t as much of an issue as it might be with a regular job.  And, since most of them are only for the academic year (aka, not summer), if you need to go visit family over the summer it won’t conflict with work.  You can find a full list of the 2012-2013 graduate assistantship positions here.  Applications for Fall of 2012 are due on April 2nd.

Finally, if you don’t have a lot of money or any way of getting it easily, there  are always loans.  Many students end up taking out loans from the Federal government.  While most people going to grad school have probably had some experience with FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), you don’t need to be intimidated if it’s new.  You can visit the FAFSA website to get started.  The whole process only takes about 15 minutes, and there really isn’t that much information to enter.  Part of the reason for this is that FAFSA can now electronically pull your tax information directly from the IRS.  Unfortunately, this does mean that you need to file taxes before filling out the FAFSA.  The priority deadline for the FAFSA is March 1st, so be sure to file your taxes as early as possible.  Also, if you have the option, filing your taxes electronically will allow your information to be accessed by FAFSA much more quickly (1-2 weeks) than taxes filed on paper (6-8 weeks).

Depending on your income from the previous year and your liquid assets (savings/checking account balances, for instance), you can borrow up to $20,500 in Federal student loans per year.  That alone would cover the cost of tuition, while allowing a little extra for books and such.  However, if $20,500 isn’t enough, you can borrow up to the estimated cost of attendance (remember that $35,412?) in Graduate Plus Loans.  These loans have a higher interest rate than the regular Federal loans, but they are an option if you don’t want to work while in school, or can’t find a job.

Finally, there are scholarships.  While there aren’t nearly as many scholarships for grad students as there are for undergrad students, it’s good go know that they’re there.  As of 2012, the Naropa Presidential Scholarship and the Naropa Honor Scholarship do not need to be applied for.  Naropa will decide whether you qualify for these scholarships based on your academic achievements and financial need when they’re processing your financial aid package.  All other scholarships need to be applied for, and have an application deadline.  The scholarships available can be viewed here,  and applications for Fall of 2012 must be turned in by April 1st (that’s less than a week from today).

One thing to keep in mind with financial aid is that anything that isn’t a loan will possibly decrease the total amount in loans that you can borrow.  This means that if you get a $7000 graduate assistantship, you might have $7000 less in loans that you can borrow.  But since that $7000 won’t need to be paid back, it’s really not a bad deal if you can make it work.

As always, let me know if you have more questions about Naropa’s financial aid, tuition, etc., and I’ll reply asap!


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Nicole
    Sep 06, 2012 @ 23:43:31

    Thank you for blogging about your experiences! I am planning a visit to Naropa in October for the Grad School of Psychology preview weekend with the intent to apply for next fall. I didn’t study Psychology as an undergrad, so my path isn’t as direct as some applicants may be. Your insights are both valuable and comforting. I really look forward to getting a closer look for myself! cheers! Nicole


    • Mari
      Sep 06, 2012 @ 23:53:11

      Thanks for your feedback Nicole! I’m happy to hear that you’re applying to Naropa; it really is a great place (of course, I’m a bit biased). In case you’re wondering, I’ve encountered quite a few graduate psychology students here whose undergraduate degrees aren’t in psychology, so don’t be intimidated by that. Just make sure to finish the three psychology prerequisite classes before you start graduate classes. Also, feel free to ask any questions you might have, and I’ll do my best to answer them!


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