Managing Your Costs

Any side-by-side comparison will show that Missouri State offers a quality education at a very competitive cost. Our tuition and fees and our on-campus room and board costs are well below national averages

At the same time, we know the total cost is significant. We therefore want to help you to reduce the total cost of your degree at Missouri State while accumulating little to no debt. Here are some tips.

Take advantage of financial aid, scholarships and student employment

Help is available through federal, state and institutional resources. Be sure you do your part to qualify.

  • Submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on a timely basis each year. Missouri students must apply by Feb. 1 to be considered for the Access Missouri Grant for the following year.
  • Use the office of student employment services to find part-time employment on campus or in the community. In addition to generating an income to apply toward your costs, you can also gain valuable experience that will help you when you graduate.
  • Apply for scholarships for which you qualify, either through Missouri State or outside sources.
  • Student loans are an important resource for many students, but if you need to borrow then take out only what you need for immediate costs. Keep track of your student loan debt and be aware of the monthly payments you will need to make after graduation. Start repaying your loans before you graduate if you can.

Stay on track to graduate in four years (or less)

While most people think of a college degree as a four-year plan, many students take longer. Each additional semester comes with the cost of tuition, fees and other expenses as well as lost opportunity for income from full-time employment.

  • Take advantage of dual credit and advanced placement in high school. Missouri State and many other institutions offer the opportunity to earn credit at a lower cost than through on-campus enrollment. Check the transferability of your courses on our transfer equivalency guide.
  • Meet with your advisor to create a student educational plan in your degree audit that will put you on a path to timely graduation. Stay on schedule. Avoid dropping classes. If you get off track, meet with your advisor.
  • Take summer classes as needed. In addition to on campus courses, Missouri State offers a number of online courses you can take during the summer from anywhere.
  • If you plan to seek a master’s degree, check out our accelerated master’s programs to see how you can take courses that will apply to both your undergraduate and graduate degree, saving money and time.

Use campus resources

Missouri State offers an impressive range of services and programs for students that are either free or offered at a lower cost than you would find elsewhere.

  • Increase your financial literacy by taking advantage of the services and programs offered by Real L.I.F.E., a Missouri State University program designed to help students manage student loan indebtedness.
  • Visit the health center for your medical needs. Students enrolled full-time in traditional, on-campus courses are not charged for routine visits with a physician. Most other medical services are offered at a rate significantly below what you will find in the community.
  • Stay fit, relax and spend time with friends at the Foster Recreation Center. Your membership is covered by your student services fee if you are a student enrolled full-time in traditional, on-campus courses.
  • Take advantage of tutoring, writing assistance, and other free academic support services offered by the Bear CLAW
  • Use on-campus computer resources for students, including open-access labs, campus Wi-Fi, Microsoft Office software downloads, free printing and more.
  • Enjoy the many opportunities for entertainment on campus. The Plaster Student Union offers free movies, events, and a game room. Students are admitted without charge to most MSU athletic events. Lectures, concerts, and other special events are scheduled throughout the year. 

Make good decisions regarding your spending

Careful planning and discipline are important.

  • Make and follow a budget.
  • Carefully consider your housing and meal options. Costs for on-campus housing can vary significantly based on your choice of accommodations and meal plan.
  • Buy used books from the bookstore when you can, take care of your books and resell those you do not wish to keep at the end of the semester. 
  • Avoid credit card debt. College students are targets for credit card companies. Don’t open a credit card account just to get a free t-shirt!
  • Springfield has a cost of living below state and national averages and offers all sorts of discounts to college students. Check out the Cheap and Free Guide for ideas.

Prepare for successful entry into your career

Good planning will put you in a better position for successful entry into your career.

  • Visit the Career Center to explore career options and income levels for various professions as you make or confirm your choice of a major. Start early!
  • If you are unsure of your major, the Career Center offers interest inventories and assessments that may help you to narrow your focus.
  • Take advantage of internships, some of which are paid and thus allow you to earn credit and income. Many internships lead to full-time employment after graduation.
  • Engage actively with the Career Center early in your senior year as you enter your career search.

All of the evidence indicates that those with a college degree, on average, earn significantly more over their lifetimes than those how do not have a degree. You are making a good investment in your future. Making wise financial decisions in pursuit of your degree could save you thousands of dollars and make the return on your investment even greater.