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ucmblog | financial aid

How to Earn Your Degree Without Breaking the Bank

By Ellen Blaize, December 7, 2020

UCM Quad and Admin Building


The cost of tuition can be a major source of stress for many students looking to enter college. The task of finding the right financial aid can often overtake the excitement that comes with applying and getting accepted to their dream institution. In fact, the worry of not being able to afford college keeps many from attending at all. However, don’t be discouraged! There are many ways to keep college affordable.


Choose Your Opportunity – 4 Ways to Save


Everyone’s journey to college looks different, which is why you should choose the financial aid opportunities that work best for you. There are four types of financial aid, including grants – free money for school which is typically based on your financial need, scholarships – earned money offered by states, schools or other organizations, work study – earned money with a part-time job while enrolled in school, and loans – borrowed money you need to pay back with a low, fixed interest rate, which is available to both students and parents.


1) Grants

To determine what free financial aid you may qualify for, submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by the priority deadline of Feb. 1 using your parents’ 2019 income tax returns beginning Oct. 1, and be sure to use UCM’s FAFSA code 002454. The following federal grants are awarded based on the results of your FAFSA:

  • Pell Grant
  • Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG)
  • TEACH Grant
  • Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant
  • Access Missouri Grant (for Missouri residents only)

By submitting your application for admission at, you can also apply for additional grants, such as:

  • Second Generation Grant – awarded to regularly admitted, non-resident students whose parent/grandparent or step-parent/step-grandparent earned a UCM degree
  • Non-Resident Scholar Award – awarded based on ACT score and cumulative high school GPA


2) Scholarships

When looking at scholarships, it’s important to keep an eye out for the words “renewable” and “stackable.” If a scholarship is renewable, that means you’re able to receive it for additional semesters, not just once. If a scholarship is stackable, that means it can be added together with other scholarships for a larger award. Don’t get caught up in the dollar signs of one short-term scholarship and ignore smaller scholarships that may have a stronger payout over time.


A great question to ask when looking at colleges is, “what will my final cost be after my scholarships are applied?” For example, a $20,000 scholarship sounds great, but if your annual tuition is $50,000, it would be more affordable to go to a university that gives you $5,000 towards a $15,000 annual tuition. It’s your money and your investment, so be sure to get all the details.


Good news – UCM offers many renewable scholarships, and all of our scholarships are stackable. We make finding and applying for scholarships easy with UCM Scholarship Finder, which allows you to apply for multiple scholarships at one time. Simply fill out one application and it will be automatically submitted toward all eligible scholarships!


We provide the following automatic scholarships that are guaranteed. If you qualify, you receive them!

  • Red and Black Scholarship – Incoming, regularly-admitted freshmen receive up to $4,500 automatically! This merit-based scholarship is renewable for up to four years.
  • UCM Bound Out-of-State Scholarship – Regularly admitted undergraduate students whose permanent residence is in one of the eight states bordering Missouri pay in-state tuition and fees for all classes on the main campus in Warrensburg.

UCM also offers two additional scholarships, including:

  • A+ Recognition Scholarship – Eligible incoming freshmen entering UCM from an A+ designated high school in Missouri receive $500 per year. This scholarship is renewable for a second year.
  • Dual Credit Scholarship – Eligible incoming freshmen who have taken at least one dual credit course with UCM and received a 3.0 or higher GPA receive $1,000 per year. This scholarship is renewable for up to six semesters.

We even offer scholarships specifically for transfer students that are renewable for up to six semesters, including:

  • President’s Distinguished Scholarship – $2,000 per year
  • President’s Scholarship – $1,500 per year
  • Dean’s Scholarship – $1,000 per year
  • Phi Theta Kappa Scholarship – $1,500 per year


3) Work Study


Federal Work-Study (FWS) is a need-based federal student aid program that provides funding for part-time employment to some eligible students. This is a great way to earn funds to pay for college while gaining experience! The Work-Study award (not a grant or loan), represents an employment earnings allotment, for part-time work, up to 20 hours per week. For more information, visit If you don’t qualify for Federal Work Study, you can still apply for campus jobs at


4) Loans

Loans are sums of borrowed money that accumulate interest and must be repaid. They can help bridge the gap of your total cost to attend after your financial aid funding has been applied. Private lending organizations offer loans to assist with your education and living expenses. The federal government also offers low-interest loan programs to help you attend UCM, such as:

  • Stafford Loan (student loan) – minimum of $5,500 for dependent students and $9,500 for independent students
  • PLUS Loan (parent loan) – equal to the cost of attendance minus other financial aid received annually


Don’t Sacrifice Quality for Cost

The quality of your education matters. At the University of Central Missouri, you can spend less without sacrificing quality. Your money goes further here, because we take action to keep costs low and affordability high. That’s why our tuition is lower than both the Missouri and national average, and why we have been recognized by the student finance bureau LendEDU for having one of the lowest national student debt numbers for 2019 graduates. Here’s how we make that possible:

  • 92% of UCM undergraduates receive financial aid
  • UCM awards $21 million institutional aid annually
  • UCM awards $1.3 million in foundational scholarships annually

The best investment you will ever make is the one you make for yourself and your future. UCM has a rich heritage of providing unparalleled student support, exceptional academic programs and valuable learning opportunities, and has helped students achieve success through affordable access to a high-quality education for the past 150 years. Find your savings today with UCM’s net price calculator, and estimate how much financial aid you could receive with UCM’s scholarship calculator.


It’s a great time to apply, because UCM is now test-optional! This means that students applying to UCM with a 2.75 GPA or higher may be admitted without submitting an ACT or SAT test score. Students admitted as test-optional will also receive a $1,000 Red & Black Scholarship. Learn more about the University of Central Missouri, and apply today!


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