Making the right college decision requires you to not only review academic and social factors but also financial factors. Is the University of Iowa the right “financial fit” for you? In the simplest terms this means your ability to cover educational costs so that your bill is paid and you can return for the upcoming semester. In a broader sense, this means that your educational debt does not impact your lifestyle after graduation in a negative way. Borrowing is not bad. Your education is one of the best investments you can make. However, responsible borrowing is the key.

The better informed you are about college expenses, financial aid, personal/family resources and loan repayment after college, the less likely you will be to choose a college/university that is not the right financial fit for you or over-extend your ability to repay your educational loans. Conversations with your parents are very important in helping you analyze your family’s ability to pay.

You are encouraged to view the Your Path to College video discussing “financial fit” and then use your award notification (available on MyUI) to determine your financial gap.

Tuition/Fees + Housing + Meal Costs
Grants, Scholarships, and Federal Direct Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loans
Financial Gap

The financial gap may be met by resources not documented on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Examples of additional resources include:  assistance from non-custodial parent, grandparents, student employment, etc. If you plan to meet this financial gap through the Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan or private student loans, be aware that these loans are credit-based and may not be approved.

If the financial gap is concerning to you or cannot be met, you may want to:

  • look at other less expensive educational alternatives such as attending a community college and earning your A.A. degree, then transferring to Iowa for your bachelor’s degree
  • attend a college in your home state, if you are a nonresident student
  • set up a phone meeting with Financial Literacy staff

Schedule Your Financial Literacy Meeting

To schedule a phone appointment, send an e-mail to with the subject line of "Your Path to College." Include your name, UI ID number, phone number, and available times to reach you between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Prior to your phone appointment, please watch this short videoYour Path to College

UI Financial Literacy Services staff are available to talk with you one-on-one and assist with:

  • understanding financial gap
  • applying for financial aid
  • budgeting educational expenses
  • understanding financial responsibilities
  • borrowing wisely
  • monitoring amounts of loans received
  • loan repayment options and avoiding default

Student Employment

Many students will also choose to work part-time to help decrease the need for additional loans to cover cost. We encourage students to find a job on campus.  Our research has shown that retention and graduation rates are higher for student employees than their non-working peers.  Also, student employees have a slightly higher GPA. The Office of Student Financial Aid holds a Student Job Fair each fall and spring. Review the Search for Student Jobs web page for instructions on how to obtain a part-time job.