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Boston University scholarships, student loans and grants

How to cover the $75K price tag.

Boston University (BU) can be tough to afford. While it costs the same as attending an Ivy League school, it doesn’t have the budget to meet each student’s financial need. That’s why many students graduate with more debt than the national average. However, you can reduce this by looking into BU, government and private funding options.

How much does it cost to go to Boston University?

Costs of attending Boston UniversityAnnual cost
Meal plan$5,480
Books and supplies$1,000
Other expenses$1,320
Total for the 2019–2020 academic year$75,002

Source: Boston University

As you can see, going to BU costs more than just tuition and fees. You also need to cover textbooks, a meal plan and other living expenses during the semester.

What’s the average student debt load for Boston University students?

Boston University students graduated with an average student debt load of $40,089 in 2016, according to the Department of Education — more than $3,000 over the national average.

Does BU offer a tuition payment plan?

Yes, Boston University offers a payment plan through Nelnet Campus Commerce. The plan breaks up each semester’s tuition into five installments that BU automatically deducts from your bank account on the 15th of each month. You can enroll online by logging in to Student Link and selecting Payment Plan.

Fall semester payments starts in May and end in September. The spring semester payment plan starts in October and ends in February.

Boston University scholarships and grants

BU offers several need-and merit-based scholarships and grants to students, in addition to a student employment option.

To be considered for financial aid, you must complete a student profile and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on time. BU automatically renews need-based scholarships the following academic year, though you might need to reapply for some merit-based awards.

Boston University Grant

AmountVaries based on need
Eligibility requirements

You must meet the following criteria to qualify:

  • Eligible for need-based financial aid
  • Strong high school academics
  • Complete at least 12 credits each semester
  • Maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA

This need-based award is offered to students whose families can’t afford to cover the full cost of attendance at BU. Since funding is limited, this grant typically goes to students who have the strongest academic record in high school. You’re automatically considered for the BU Grant when you apply for financial aid.

BU Community Service Award

AmountVaries based on need
Eligibility requirements

You must meet the following criteria to qualify:

  • First-year or transfer student
  • Graduated from a Boston public high school
  • Qualify for need-based financial aid
  • Complete at least 12 credits per semester
  • Maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA
  • Commit to 25 hours of community service per semester

This need-based grant goes to first-year and transfer students who went to a Boston high school and are committed to serving their community. In addition to demonstrating financial need, you also have to dedicate at least 25 hours a semester to community service work. The BU Community Service Award automatically renews each year and increases to reflect any changes in tuition.

Charles River Housing Grant

AmountVaries based on need
Eligibility requirements

You must meet the following criteria to qualify:

  • Live in BU-owned housing on the Charles River or Fenway Campus
  • Qualify for need-based financial aid
  • Complete at least 12 credits per semester
  • Maintain a 2.0 GPA or higher

This need-based grant is only available to students who live in BU housing on either the Charles River Campus or Fenway Campus. You can continue to receive the award each year long as you live in eligible housing and maintain satisfactory academic progress.

Richard D. Cohen Scholarship

AmountVaries based on financial need
Eligibility requirements

You must meet the following criteria to qualify:

  • Exceptional financial need
  • Outstanding academic achievement
  • Complete at least 12 credits per semester
  • Maintain a 2.0 GPA or higher

The Richard D. Cohen Scholarship is a need- and merit-based award for low-income students with a strong academic record. While there are no cutoffs, students with the most competitive GPAs and test scores might have an easier time qualifying. The award amount adjusts each year based on changes in tuition.

Alumni Council Scholarship

Eligibility requirements

You must meet the following criteria to qualify:

  • Have an immediate family member who’s a BU alumnus
  • Qualify for need-based financial aid
  • Complete at least 12 credits per semester
  • Maintain a 2.0 GPA or higher

This need-based scholarship is designed to help legacy students cover the cost of tuition. There are no academic requirements to qualify, though you need to maintain satisfactory academic progress to remain eligible.

Merit-based scholarships

In addition to need-based scholarships and grants, BU also has several merit-based scholarships for students with exceptional academics.

Each scholarship has different requirements and application processes. Reach out to BU’s financial aid department for more details.

First-year merit-based scholarships

The following scholarship programs are available to first-year BU students:

  • Boston/Brookline Firefighters Memorial Scholarship
  • Boston University College of Engineering FIRST Scholarship
  • Brookline High Scholarship
  • Cardinal Medeiros Scholarship
  • Chelsea High and Andrew Quigley Scholarships
  • College of Fine Arts Scholarship
  • Massachusetts Pre-Engineering Program (Mass PEP) Scholarship
  • Methodist Clergy Scholarship
  • Posse Foundation Scholarship
  • Thomas M. Menino Scholarship
  • Trustee Scholarship
Transfer student merit-based scholarships

Transfer students can apply to the following scholarships:

  • Bunker Hill Community College Scholarship
  • Massachusetts Bay Community College Scholarship
  • Methodist Clergy Scholarship
  • Phi-Theta Kappa Scholarship
  • Roxbury Community College Scholarship
MET Scholarships

Students at BU’s Metropolitan College can qualify for the following scholarships:

  • Alumni Funded Scholarship Program
  • Boston Medical Center Employee Scholarship
  • Bryan D. Willard Scholarship
  • Osher Reentry Scholarship
  • Post-9/11 GI Bill Yellow Ribbon Program
  • Scholarship for Cancer Patients and Survivors
  • Scholarship for Community College Graduates
  • Scholarship for Parents
  • WSIA Education Foundation

Athletic scholarships

BU offers awards spanning from a few hundred dollars to a full ride to student athletes. The head coach of each sport handpicks students to receive the awards each year. If you’re interested in applying, have your high school coach reach out to the BU Athletics Department for more details.

The following varsity sports are eligible for an athletic scholarship:

Women’s varsity sports
  • Basketball
  • Crew
  • Field hockey
  • Ice hockey
  • Lacrosse
  • Softball
  • Soccer
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Track
Men’s varsity sports
  • Basketball
  • Crew
  • Ice hockey
  • Soccer
  • Swimming
  • Track
  • Wrestling

Student employment

Students can find a campus job through BU’s Student Employment Office. It runs an online job board and also works to quickly match students with available positions. The only requirement to sign up is to be enrolled in a degree-granting program at BU. While this won’t necessarily cover tuition and fees, your salary can help cover part of your living expenses.

Are there other scholarships and grants available?

There are. In addition to BU-funded scholarships, students can apply to federal scholarship and grant programs like the National Merit Scholarship or Pell Grant.

The State of Massachusetts also offers scholarships and grants, though these are typically only available to residents. Students from elsewhere might want to consider the options available in their home state.

Massachusetts scholarships, students loans and grants

Student loans to pay for Boston University

BU’s financial aid budget is limited, so chances are you’ll need to take out a student loan to cover at least part of your cost of attendance. BU recommends applying for federal loans first, since they typically have lower rates and more flexible repayment options than private loans. You can apply for federal loans by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

However, there’s a limit to how much you can borrow and not all students qualify. In that case, you might want to consider private student loans as well.

Compare private student loan providers

Explore your options by APR, minimum credit score, loan amount and loan term. Select the Get started button to start an application with a specific lender.

Name Product APR Min. Credit Score Loan amount Loan Term
Stride Funding Income Share Agreement
As low as 2%
Up to $25,000
2 to 10 years
A student loan alternative for graduate students based on your future salary.
EDvestinU Private Student Loans
4.092% to 8.609% with autopay
$1,000 - $200,000
7 to 20 years
Straightforward student loans for undergraduate and graduate students.
CommonBond Private Student Loans
3.74% to 10.74%
$5,000 - $500,000
5 to 15 years
Finance your college education through this lender with a strong social mission and terms that fit your budget.
Edvisors Private Student Loan Marketplace
Varies by lender
Varies by lender
Varies by lender
Varies by lender
Quickly compare private lenders for your school and apply for the right student loan.
Credible Labs Inc. (Student Loan Platform)
Starting at 0.99% with autopay
Good to excellent credit
Starting at $1,000
5 to 20 years
Get prequalified rates from private lenders offering student loans with no origination or prepayment fees.

Compare up to 4 providers

Bottom line

Going to BU isn’t cheap, and its financial aid program isn’t as expansive as what you might find at other private schools like Yale or Stanford. To lower the cost, look into federal, private and state scholarships and grants you might qualify for before taking on debt.

Learn more about how to finance your education by reading our guide to student loans.

Frequently asked questions

Can I apply for a scholarship as an enrolled student?

You can, though BU typically awards scholarships to first-year and transfer students. You can learn about which scholarships you might be eligible for by reaching out to the BU Fellowships and Scholarships Office.

Does BU offer scholarships to international students?

Yes, international students might be able to qualify for several merit-based scholarships. However, need-based funding is limited to US citizens and noncitizens who qualify for federal aid. Contact the Fellowships and Scholarships Office to learn which options are available to you.

Are there any scholarship options for graduate students?

Yes, BU offers several scholarships and fellowships to graduate students. Eligibility typically depends on your area of study. Funding options can vary by campus and department. Contact your school’s financial assistance office for more details.

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