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What’s a tuition discount and how do you get one?

    Tuition discounts can make attending college more affordable for students who qualify as they reduce the amount a student will have to pay for school.

    Unlike grants and scholarships offered by the federal government, state governments, or third-party organizations, tuition discounts are provided by colleges.

    Keep reading to learn about tuition discounts and how you may be able to qualify for one.

    What’s a tuition discount, and how does it work?

    A tuition discount is financial assistance schools offer to reduce the net price of attendance for their eligible students. The money may appear on financial aid award letters listed directly as a tuition discount. It also might be referred to as an entrance award or a grant or scholarship. Whatever it’s listed as, it all means the same thing — it’s financial assistance that your school is offering to reduce your tuition costs.

    Who qualifies for tuition discounts?

    Colleges and universities may offer tuition discounts, and therefore, who qualifies is at the discretion of individual schools. Here are a few examples of when schools may offer tuition discounts.

    Low-income students

    Many schools offer tuition discounts based on students’ financial needs. For example, the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor offers free tuition to undergraduate students from households who fall below a certain income threshold.

    State residents

    Some colleges and universities provide discounted tuition to residents of the state where the university is located. Some colleges also participate in exchange programs, such as the Midwest Student Exchange Program. Through this program, students from Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Wisconsin may be eligible for tuition discounts at specific Midwest public and private schools.

    University employees

    College and university employees and their children sometimes receive discounted tuition at the college or university where they’re employed. At Pennsylvania State University, a spouse or dependent up to age 26 may be eligible for a tuition discount of 75% per credit, for instance. Keep in mind that there are exceptions to this, so it’s important to check with your school.

    Civil servants

    Colleges and universities sometimes provide institutional aid to those who work in the public sector, such as state or federal government employees or, in some cases, their children. At  Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, certain people working as civil servants may receive a tuition waiver, for instance.

    Legacy students

    If you attend the same school one of your parents attended, you may qualify for a legacy scholarship in some instances. For example, through the Legacy Tuition Program, the University of Kentucky offers partial tuition awards to eligible incoming first-time freshmen non-resident undergraduate children of University of Kentucky graduates.

    Summer students

    Some universities and colleges boast lower tuition rates for classes held during the summer. Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts offers eligible students 50% off on every undergraduate summer session course. Students can choose from more than 100 options, each lasting five weeks.

    Military members

    Current and former members of the U.S. Armed Forces often benefit from tuition discounts as thanks for their service. At Liberty University, military veterans are offered a tuition discount for their classes.

    How can I apply for a tuition discount?

    Because there’s such a wide variety of tuition discounts available, and they vary by school, reach out to your school to see what tuition discounts they may offer and ask about the eligibility requirements for each.

    You may automatically qualify for some tuition discounts but you may need to apply for others.

    Of note, it may be important to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) as some schools may require you to file the FAFSA® to be eligible for tuition discounts.

    Final thoughts

    Tuition discounts are meant to support eligible students in paying for college. Given the range of available tuition discounts, reach out to schools for assistance in identifying what tuition discounts they may have available.