degree-of-interest: College of Professional Studies

Budgeting 101: Managing Tuition Costs for CPS Students

Budgeting 101: Managing Tuition Costs for CPS Students

You are ready to take the next step in your career and have realized that an online degree will give you the skills and resume boost you need. This represents an important investment in yourself and your future, but challenges can be expected along the way.

One of the most crucial concerns to tackle early on? Managing tuition and other expenses. Nevertheless, this does not need to feel intimidating as there are many excellent resources and opportunities available.

In this guide, we will highlight budgeting essentials as they relate to Carson-Newman’s College of Professional Studies (CPS). Keep reading for a thorough overview of budgeting for college students.

Understanding Tuition Costs

Tuition does not represent an arbitrary expense. A lot of thought and consideration goes into setting this rate, and usually, the college’s board of trustees or board of regents will be heavily involved in this process. To some extent, rates depend on large-scale funding sources, not to mention the various costs that go into operating different types of colleges or universities.

What Is Included in the Cost?

Before you commit to paying for tuition, you should know what exactly this will cover. This can vary considerably between colleges with some treating tuition as practically all-inclusive. Others may call for additional fees to access certain resources or opportunities.

At its most basic level, tuition allows you to take advantage of college-level instruction. With a per-credit setup, paying tuition opens the door to attending specific classes. Online students are often asked to pay modest tech fees but can bypass other expenses such as activity fees or meal plans. Tuition may also cover student success resources, including academic advising, life coaching, and even counseling.

Are There Different Types of Tuition?

Tuition can vary not only between institutions, but also within each college or university. For example, different categories may be assigned to full- and part-time students. With the former, tuition may be assessed on a per-semester basis with the assumption that students will complete between 12 and 17 credit hours. Part-time setups, however, typically involve per-credit fees. Furthermore, there may often be separate rates for undergraduate or graduate students.

Tuition distinctions come into play at Carson-Newman where on-campus students maintain a set per-semester rate, while per-credit arrangements fulfill the unique needs of CPS students.

Tuition Varies Across Institutions

It should come as no surprise that tuition rates vary dramatically from one college to the next. These somewhat depend on the type of institution attended. With public universities, differences may relate to the student’s location. In this situation, in- versus out-of-state tuition often comes into play. Public university tuition may also depend on funding at the state level. With nonprofit, private universities such as Carson-Newman, students from a number of backgrounds can pursue an affordable education.

Discrepancies in tuition often relate to geographic concerns, such as the cost of living. Learning formats and platforms can also be influential, with online programs often proving more affordable and accessible than their in-person counterparts.

Researching Financial Aid Options

While tuition rates can provide valuable insight into the potential cost of attending college, this is only one piece of the puzzle. Several students limit their out-of-pocket spending by making the most of financial aid, which includes loans, grants, scholarships, and more.

Exploring Financial Aid Options for CPS Students

The good news? As a CPS student, you could qualify for several forms of financial aid. Learn more by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Next, be prepared to do your own research or to work with a financial aid advisor. The goal is to determine which financial aid solutions align with your current lifestyle and your long-term objectives.

Different Federal Aid Programs

There is a dizzying array of financial aid programs available and, while FAFSA should provide some valuable insight, it may not cover the full range of options within reach. Common programs used by CPS students include:

  • Federal subsidized or unsubsidized loans
  • Federal Pell Grant
  • Military-affiliated scholarships or grants
  • Yellow Ribbon Program
  • State of Tennessee scholarship, grants, and loan forgiveness

Finding Scholarships That Work for You

Scholarships are among the most desirable forms of financial aid: they look amazing on resumes and don’t need to be paid back. CPS students are eligible for numerous scholarships, including several from religious institutions and nonprofit organizations. Financial aid counselors can point you in the right direction, but feel free to also explore scholarship search engines.

Create a Budget Plan

Now that you understand what your tuition bill involves and how financial aid plays into this, you should have a basic idea as to how much you will need to pay each semester and how you can meet those obligations. Next, a budget plan can help you understand your finances beyond the scope of tuition.

Create an Easy Budget Plan

Before we delve into the specifics of expense tracking and budget, it is important to understand ease of access is essential. Some students try and fail to implement complex budget plans. Remember that budgeting only works when you stick with it.

Best Strategies for Tracking Expenses

There is no one ‘best’ strategy for tracking expenses, but typically, this will begin with determining what you consistently need to pay on a monthly or annual basis. As a college student, this means adding education alongside other major categories, such as rent or mortgage, insurance, and transportation.

When in doubt, draw on the power of technology to keep your finances on track. Budgeting apps such as YNAB and Goodbudget provide in-depth insight into your spending habits, along with suggestions to help you save more money in the future.

How to Budget Non-Tuition Expenses

Focus on tracking expenses for a few weeks to get a handle on how you typically spend. You’ll quickly pinpoint several areas for improvement. Now, using previously established budget categories (plus your income), determine how much money you have available each month to spend on current needs and wants. Be prepared to prioritize some areas while allocating less money for others.

Exploring Alternative Funding Sources

As you develop your budget plan, if you realize that you could use a funding boost, start examining opportunities to improve your cash flow. These will be highly dependent on your schedule, especially if you are already employed or are committing a lot of time to your coursework. Options worth examining include:


Internships are valuable for all types of students, but they can be especially helpful for online learners. These targeted work experiences bring critical concepts from the screen to the real world. This is one of the best ways to develop industry-relevant skills. Depending on the internship, this could also provide a significant source of income. Paid internships abound — and some have even been known to lead directly to full-time employment opportunities.

Work-Study Programs

Work-study programs provide valuable employment opportunities targeted specifically at students. These positions are not strictly limited to on-campus students. PlentyPlenty of online learners live close enough to campus to facilitate onsite work-study, while others leverage remote work opportunities. Either way, these programs are always worth exploring.

Part-Time Jobs

Struggling to find the right internship or work-study opportunity? Consider bridging the gap with a part-time job. This can provide not only supplemental income, but also another way to apply skills gained in your college coursework or even to develop skills beyond the scope of your classes. If possible, seek positions that align with your desired career path.

Seeking Financial Counseling and Support Services

As you plan for your academic and financial future, remember you don’t need to go it alone. Support is available every step of the way, so don’t hesitate to reach out when you need more information or could use a helping hand. Make the most of CPS resources and services so you can proceed with confidence.

Getting Help From Financial Aid Counselors

Financial aid counselors understand the many challenges today’s students face. These passionate professionals are committed to helping all types of students get the practical and financial support they require.

This is a crucial resource if you struggle to keep various loans, scholarships, and grant programs straight. While meeting with financial aid counselors, you’ll learn which options align best with your goals and priorities, so you can make an informed decision.

Know Supports Offered by Carson-Newman

Carson-Newman provides support services to CPS students. For instance, our enrollment coaches are happy to provide insight and encouragement while helping you craft a financial plan that works for you.

Ready to take control of your tuition costs and pave the way for your academic success? For personalized guidance and support tailored to CPS students, consider partnering with Christian university Carson-Newman College of Professional Studies, where we’re dedicated to empowering students like you to achieve their full potential as educated citizens and worldwide servant leaders. Start your journey today!

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