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Paying for College

It looks like you have JavaScript disabled in your browser. Because of this, certain features and content may be unavailable. If you have questions regarding this, please call SMSU Web Services at 507-537-6123 or email

At Southwest Minnesota State University, making your education affordable is important to us!  We strive to ensure that paying for college makes sense while you are here, and when you are done.  

  • SMSU recognized as a member of the "20/30 Club"  - A select group of institutions with an annual tuition rate below $20,000 and new graduates earning more than $30,000/year on average.
  • Southwest Minnesota State University is ranked sixth among colleges and universities in Minnesota for "Best Lifetime Return on Investment" by (AC Online).  SMSU is the highest ranked of the seven 4-year MnSCU schools with an estimated ROI of $630,600!
  • SMSU awarded more than $2,150,000 in scholarships to students last year!

For more information about how you can finance your education at SMSU, check out the information below!

  • Cost of Attendance

    Get the break-down on what it costs to attend SMSU.

    Learn More
  • Scholarships @ SMSU

    We have several scholarship options for you to choose from.

    Learn More
  • FAFSA Information

    Learn more about the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

    Learn More
  • Types of Financial Aid

    There are many.

    Learn More

Cost of Attendance

The annual cost of attendance can be seen on the right side of this page.  Some key things to keep in mind:

  • SMSU offers "Banded Tuition" which means you can take between 12-18 credits and your tuition doesn't change! You only pay the 12 credit rate!
  • Room and Board includes your residence hall room and your meal plan cost.
  • The room cost is based on a double occupancy room with a roommate.  For more information about room types and costs, please visit our Residence Life homepage.
  • The meal plan cost is based on our "traditional" meal plan of 14 meals per week combined with $150 Dining Dollars.  For more information about Meal Plan Options, please visit our Campus Dining homepage.
  • The only costs that are not included  are books and personal expenses.  While these costs vary widely by student, our Financial Aid Office using the following estimates: $1,200 for books (annually) and $3,200 in personal expenses.
  • In order to give you the best possible financial aid package, the Financial Aid Office includes those figures in the Cost of Attendance.



for 2014-2015
Tuition $6,986
Fees $1,088
Room & Board $7,352
* based on the information to the left

Scholarships at SMSU

Southwest Minnesota State University is proud to reward high academic achievers with academic scholarships to help them with their college costs.  Not only that, but is our opportunity to invest in you and your future. 

The Office of Admission awards scholarships to new entering freshman and transfer students.  Current students should inquire with the Financial Aid Office and their Academic Department for scholarship opportunities for currently enrolled students.

Scholarships are available to qualified students who are admitted to SMSU and complete the SMSU Scholarship ApplicationBy completing this application, you will have applied for all new entering student scholarships.  The only exception is the SMSU Alumni Heritage Scholarships which require a separate application.  For information about the Alumni Heritage Scholarships, please visit the Alumni homepage.

By clicking on the links below, you can view the award amounts and criteria.  If you have questions about scholarship criteria, awards, or applying, please contact Scholarship Director Matt Suby or (800)-642-0684 ext 6286.

The Mustang Scholarship Program is a broad and inclusive scholarship program that benefits all students who meet the scholarship criteria.

  • Scholarships


    Learn More

  • Scholarships

    Transfer Students

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  • SMSU Foundation


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SMSU has one of the lowest tuition rates in the state, and we've been ranked 6th among colleges and universities in Minnesota for best lifetime return on investment.

Last year, we awarded more than $2.15 million in scholarships to SMSU students!

FAFSA Information

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is available to U.S. citizens and eligible noncitizens to assist them in paying for their college education.  The application process is the same for traditional, non-traditional, dependent and independent applicants.

The SMSU Financial Aid Priority Date is March 1st of each year.  We encourage all students to complete the FAFSA as soon as they can after January 1.  SMSU FAFSA Code is: 002375

How do I apply?

1)  Apply for your PIN Number - Each student (and one parent if you are a dependent student) must apply for a PIN – Personal Identification Number. The PIN will allow you to electronically sign your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), change your address, view the processing status of your FAFSA application, and much more.

Apply for your PIN at The U.S. Department of Education will assign you a PIN. Carefully read all of the information on this web site. Your PIN should be kept in a safe confidential location. This number will be used each year you apply for financial aid.

2) Complete the FAFSA - Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the appropriate year. We recommend that you print out the Pre-Application Worksheet. Use this worksheet to assist you in collecting information for the online FAFSA Application.


For other FAFSA Filing Options, deadline information, and more complete directions, please visit https://fafsa.ed.go

Financial Aid Estimator

Students can complete the SMSU Financial Aid Estimator to get an earlier estimate of their financial aid award.  Students who submit this form can do so using their parents most recent tax information.  Once an estimator is completed and submitted, students can usually get their estimate with 24-48 hours. 

2014 - 2015 SMSU Financial Aid Estimator Form


Q: Do I need to fill out the FAFSA every year...?

Yes. You need to fill out a FAFS for the academic year for which you would like to recieve federal financial aid. Complete the FAFSA online at

Q: I don't know where I want to go to college. Should I wait until decide to apply for Financial Aid?

NO! On the FAFSA you may list up to 5 different insitutions you would like to receive your FAFSA information. Just think of your top 5 choices and get the FAFSA done. You may also add or remove schools from your list at a later date.

Q: My parent aren't helping me pay for college. Do I need parental information on the FAFSA?

Even if your parents don't contribute money toward your education, you're considered a dependent of your parents and need their information unless:

  • you'll be twenty-four by January 1 of the school year
  • you're an orphan, a ward of the court, or homeless
  • you're a veteren or currently serve on active duty
  • you're married
  • you have a legal dependent other than your spouse
  • you're a degree seeking a graduate student



Types of Aid


Grants are considered to be gift aid or funds awarded to students which are repaid. Federal grant programs include -- Federal Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, and Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higer Education Grant.

Minnesota grant programs include: Minnesota State Grant MN GI Bill, Postsecondary Child Care Grant, Safety Officer Survivor's Grant, and the Minnesota Dream Act.


The Office of Admission awards new entering freshmen and transfer student scholarships. A number of scholarships are awarded by individual departments on campus. Applications are available from the appropriate office and online. See scholarship requirements by clicking here.

Work Study & Regular Pay

Students can work on-campus through work study or regular student employment programs. A list of employment opportunities is available on the Financial Aid website. Students must locate their own job, are paid bi-weekly and work an average of 10 hours per week.


A loan is a type of financial aid that must be repaid. There are several different loan programs. Some require payments while the student is enrolled; others do not. The interest rates vary from 3.4% to 12%.


SMSU is a member of the "20-30 Club," a select group of state institutions with an annual tuition rate below $20,000 and new graduates earning more than $30,000/year on average.

At SMSU, tons of people will help you achieve your goals. The opportunities are endless.

Jake Kortium, Agribusiness Management, Madelia, Minnesota
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