BU Financial Aid & Scholarships: Real Parent Experiences

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Is Boston University on your son or daughter's top colleges list? Find out how other parents have paid for BU.


If your child is thinking of  applying to Boston University, you may be wondering how much it will cost you. When it comes to BU tuition and financial aid, it’s always helpful to hear stories from other BU parents and students about how they paid for college.

We spoke with Rachel Rabinovich, a Massachusetts-based parent, about her experience paying for BU. Her daughter graduated in 2014 with a BFA in graphic design. So whether you’re looking for the inside scoop on BU’s cost of attendance, housing, or getting scholarships, read on… and if you’ve got further questions (or advice from your own experiences) be sure to chime in with a comment!

BU’s Base Tuition Price

How much did the cost of BU factor into your child’s decision of where to go to college?

Rabinovich: It was a big part of the conversation. We had a finite amount of money that we could contribute toward her college education, and we had a real concern that we didn’t want her to have too much student loan debt. Essentially we came down to BU or Mass College of Art, and BU was where she really wanted to be.

We did a cost-benefit analysis: We put all the pieces together in our head to see what everything was going to cost us, the student loan debt she would take on going to BU, how much financial aid BU offered us, and that left us with a gap.

We made a decision that we were willing to try to fill that gap because BU was her first choice and a very considered choice, thinking that a university versus a small college of art would have more [career] opportunities. Happily, we got some help from extended family to fill that gap, but that was a bonus.

Financial Aid & Scholarships at BU

When it comes to BU financial aid, did you expect to receive scholarships? What research did you do to find out if you were eligible for need-based financial aid, merit-based financial aid, or both?

Rabinovich: We had done the FAFSA and worked with a student loan specialist and knew we weren’t going to get need-based financial aid because, on paper, we didn’t have much financial need. We hoped for merit-based financial aid, which she got, and which was a conversation we had all through high school with her because we felt her part, her contribution, was to get the best grades and be as active as she could be to make the best choices and get the most amount of scholarship money.

In terms of what BU was going to offer us for financial aid, we really didn’t know. It was like fingers crossed. We paid attention to those paying for college conversations when we went to visit schools, we went to the informational evenings they had at the high school, we tried to keep pretty well-informed.

We started the financial aid process during her junior year of high school—that’s when we first visited the student loan specialist. Even though I’m a CFP®, it was actually really helpful because [paying for college] it’s really specialized knowledge. One piece of advice we got was that students need to apply to schools that are reaches and safeties from an academic standpoint, but you need to do that on a financial level, too. So we had a financial safety school—a school that we knew she could get into and that we could pay in full.

Did your expectations for financial aid at BU align with what you actually received?

Rabinovich: Yes.

Did you appeal your BU financial aid award? If so, can you share your financial aid negotiation process and the outcome?

Rabinovich: I did appeal once. It was going into her senior year, when my husband got laid off. I called the BU financial aid office to talk to them about that. They were only a little helpful, but there was a positive outcome: They gave her a little more money, about $1,000 in additional financial aid, although I was hoping for more. But they were helpful in talking through possibilities with me. We talked through some workarounds like the medical insurance piece, they were helpful in that sense.

More Advice from a BU Parent

What advice or insider tips do you have for other parents whose children want to go to BU?

Rabinovich: Get the financial aid applications in as early in the year as possible because it really is a first-come, first-serve basis. Our financial aid counselor filed it for us on New Year’s Day or January 2, really early. And at BU, definitely consider off-campus housing—maybe not freshman year but after, it will be much cheaper to be off-campus. We even had help with BU housing, we had a housing grant from the BU financial aid office, and going off-campus was still more affordable.

In hindsight, do you think BU was a good financial fit—and why or why not? Would you have done anything differently?

Rabinovich: BU was a good financial fit because we were able to piece together everything we needed, and we were able to stay within our budget. Our daughter’s student loan debt is not prohibitive for her. There’s that rule of thumb: You don’t want your student loans to be more than the earnings in your first year of work, and by that rule, BU has worked in her favor.

Do you have a BU student, or does your child want to go to BU? Share your tips or questions about working with the BU financial aid office or BU tuition in our paying for BU discussion below!


Photo by Wally Gobetz on Flickr.

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