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Affording USD

If you’re like most students and families, you are concerned about paying for college.  Stories in the media paint a very bleak picture of higher education – high tuition, not enough financial aid, large student debt, and no job prospects.  While it is true that education is expensive, the fact is that it remains the most important investment you can make in your future. Here are some more facts that tell a different story than you may have read.

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Tuition: USD’s tuition and costs are in the mid-range of selective private universities nationwide. Tuition increases have averaged only 3.5% over the past three years and our Board of Trustees is very sensitive to the rising costs.

Financial Aid: Over 70% of our undergraduates receive some form of financial assistance including merit-based awards, need-based financial aid, and athletic scholarships. Click here for stories from USD families like yours that decided to invest in a USD education and how they are making it work.

Student Debt: Borrowing money for school has always been seen as a worthwhile investment. While it is true that students and parents should be very careful about how much they borrow, the fact is that the average USD student graduates with an average debt of $29,115, less than one year’s tuition payment. 

Job Prospects: The quality of a USD education is evident in the success of our graduates. A survey by our Career Center showed that 88% of our recent graduates had received a job offer with three months of graduation. The average starting salary was over $45,000. A USD degree matters, and starts paying off immediately.

Let’s look at those last two points together. A student leaves USD with approximately $29,000 in student loans (on average). 88% of them receive job offers within three months of graduation, and the average starting salary last year was $45,941.  According to current student loan interest rates (6.8%) and typical repayment schedule, the monthly payment on those student loans is $345.24. That seems a lot more manageable than you may have thought. A big investment? Absolutely. But an investment that will continue to pay dividends  for a lifetime.


As a way to help families understand more about the approximate cost of attending college, the Department of Education now requires all universities to have a financial aid estimator on their web site. Below you will find the link to the University of San Diego’s financial aid estimator. While helpful in getting a general idea of the amount and type of aid that might be available, it is important to remember that this only provides an estimate. Like our holistic admissions review process, financial aid is determined by many factors, only some of which can be built into a tool like this. Just like we cannot tell a student whether they will be admitted or not based on their GPA and test scores alone, we cannot tell a family, with certainty, exactly how much financial aid they may get based on the small sample of questions in the calculator.

To use the calculator below to get your estimate, answer the questions as accurately as you can. Remember that no award package is official until a family has completed the FAFSA by the required date, the student has been admitted to the University, and our financial aid office has thoroughly reviewed all the required documents.

If you have an ACT score, please use the following concordance chart to convert your composite score to the SAT scale.