Financial Planning

Financial Planning

A Saint Mary's Education is Financially Within Reach

When we see potential in a student, we pledge to help make your educational dreams a reality! Over 90 percent of Saint Mary’s students receive some form of financial aid. Enabling students to access a Saint Mary’s education is part of our commitment to individual attention and a part of our Lasallian heritage.

The average Saint Mary’s financial aid offer was approximately $36,780 for the 2020–21 academic year.

How to Pay for College: A Team Effort

Maintain a High GPA.

  • Students who achieve a high GPA qualify for merit-based scholarships. Typically, first-year students enter Saint Mary’s with an average GPA of 3.6.

Apply for FAFSA

Each year, it is important to submit your FAFSA, as you may qualify for renewable state and federal grants or become eligible for ones for which you didn't qualify in the past. These include the federal Pell Grant and, for California residents, the Cal Grant.

  • Federal Pell Grants: Federal Pell Grants are usually awarded to undergraduate students with exceptional financial need who have yet to earn a bachelor's degree. A Federal Pell Grant, unlike a loan, does not have to be repaid. Amounts do change yearly, and the maximum Federal Pell Grant award is $7,395 for 2024–25 (July 1, 2024, to June 30, 2025). All applicants must submit their FAFSA by the deadline and meet all financial and other eligibility requirements.
  • Cal Grant: The Cal Grant is a California-specific financial aid allocation that does not need to be paid back. Cal Grant applicants must apply for the FAFSA or CADAA by the March 2nd deadline and meet all financial requirements, eligibility and minimum GPA requirements of the program.  Grants are for students attending one of the University of California, California State University or California Community Colleges, or qualifying independent and career colleges or technical schools in California. At SMC the Cal Grant award can be up to 11006.  If you live in California, submit the Cal Grant GPA Verification Form to your school’s Registrar.


Apply for additional Scholarships

Research and apply for as many outside scholarships as possible.


Start Saving for College Expenses

It’s never too early to start saving for college expenses. Some options include applying for a part-time job or joining a local organization that may offer college funding opportunities. These include libraries, community centers, churches, and volunteer service organizations.

Start a Tax-Free Educational Savings Account

If your family can start a tax-free educational savings account, such as a 529 college savings plan, they should do so as early as possible. Plans like these allow for extended family and friends’ contributions as well.


Apply for FAFSA

Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) between six months and one year before you plan to attend college. To calculate financial need, the FAFSA will request parent/guardian tax info from the year prior. For example, if you plan to attend college in Fall 2024, you can fill out the 24-25 FAFSA in Fall of 2023 and include your parents’ 2022 tax information. The application opens in December 2023, and the priority deadline is February 15. The FAFSA is open to U.S. citizens, U.S. Nationals, Permanent Residents, and eligible non-citizens.

After your FAFSA is processed, you’ll receive an email about the federal Student Aid Report (SAR). Review the SAR to learn your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) The EFC is what the federal government expects your family/support system to contribute toward your college expenses. It’s used to determine how much financial aid a student is eligible to receive for any college.

Create the Best Possible Financial Aid offer Package For You

We will review your FAFSA and Cal Grant (California residents only) data and academic information. After you’ve been admitted, we create the best possible financial aid offer package for you that includes:

  • Automatic consideration for merit scholarships up to $30,000 (based on your academic achievements).
  • Scholarships, grants, loans, and work-study (based on your financial need).


Provide Flexibility in Payments

The SMC Business Office offers payment plans so students and families can pay as they go.


Offer Financial Literacy Programs

Financial Aid Services offers educational resources on student and parent loans and financial literacy programs designed to help students with money management.


Students sitting in between rows of books studying

How Much Is My Investment?

Tuition and fees: $55,634
Traditional style on-campus residence with meal plan: $16,900
Student activity fees: $500
Estimated books and supplies: $1,152
Estimated personal costs: $2,871
Estimated transportation: $1,107
Total Cost of Attendance:  $77,950
Average Financial Aid offer: -  $38,000

Estimated Cost of Attendance: = $39,950

Saint Mary’s final cost of attendance after financial aid (which over 90 percent of our students receive) is similar to that of California public universities. Here, you can expect an above-and-beyond education for an average cost.

Student Experience


“When I was a senior in high school, I wish I had known that sticker price isn’t always going to be the price you pay for college. I was given a really good merit scholarship package through Saint Mary’s that helped make education attainable.”  

—JR, '22

Top 4 Western Regional Universities

—U.S. News & World Report: Best Colleges, 2023