College Portrait


Wouldn't it be great if you could spend your college years focusing entirely on your studies without having to worry about money? Few among us are so lucky. Learning about the cost of your education and figuring out how to pay for it is an inevitable part of the college experience. Fortunately, there's no shortage of resources to help you. 

Cost of attendance

Financial aid

Financial aid can drastically reduce your college costs. At CSUN, nearly all students qualify for some form of financial aid. There are four basic kinds of aid: grants, loans, work-study and scholarships. Grants are generally awarded on the basis of financial need and do not need to be repaid. Some of the most common are the Federal Pell GrantState University Grant, Cal Grant and Educational Opportunity Program Grant.

Loans are borrowed funds that must be repaid. Some loans have a low interest rate and are issued on the basis of financial need. Others have higher interest rates, but are issued regardless of financial need. While the federal government funds most student loans, private lending institutions also issue student loans.

Work-study is a federally funded student employment program. Many CSUN students hold work-study jobs to help pay their educational costs. These on-campus jobs range from shelving library books to assisting in research. To be eligible for work-study, a student must meet strict income guidelines. Visit the Career Center to learn more about CSUN work-study jobs.

To find out if you qualify for any of these types of aid, file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) between Jan. 1 and March 2 prior to the fall in which you plan to enroll at CSUN. Remember to file your FAFSA each year by March 2 so that you can be considered for the most funding available. After you are admitted to CSUN, the Financial Aid & Scholarship Department will determine your eligibility for aid and the types of awards you may receive. Visit the Financial Aid & Scholarship Department to learn more about financial aid at CSUN.

Free money

That's right. Scholarships do not need to be repaid, so they're a great way to help finance your education. CSUN offers many different types, some for prospective students and others for continuing students. Scholarships are awarded primarily on the basis of academic achievement and financial need. Academic Works is a great tool that allows you to search for and apply to scholarships that you qualify for. For more information about scholarships, check out the Financial Aid & Scholarship Department’s scholarship page

Many academic departments at CSUN offer their own scholarships, ranging from several hundred to several thousand dollars each. You can learn about them by visiting department home pages.

You should also look for scholarships offered by off-campus entities. These scholarships often target particular populations, such as military veterans, aspiring teachers, musicians or members of ethnic or racial groups. How do you find out about them? One great way is to check out the U.S. Department of Labor's scholarship search engine.

Regardless of the type of financial aid you're looking for, you'll want to fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid between Jan. 1 and March 2 prior to the fall in which you plan to enroll at CSUN.

Financial tips

Creating a budget may sound like a big bore, but it should be one of the first things you do as a college student. It will help you learn to live within your means. Of course, a budget is no good unless you stick to it. Here are some tips:

  1. Stop buying things you don't really need.
  2. Pack a lunch, cook for yourself and avoid expensive coffee beverages.
  3. Re-evaluate whether you need a car.
  4. Take advantage of free movies on campus at the University Student Union and Cinematheque.
  5. Avoid using your credit card for everyday purchases.


The average CSUN undergraduate spends about $2,000 a year on books and supplies, but there are ways to reduce your costs. The most common way is to purchase used textbooks, which will save you 25 percent off the price of a new textbook; shop early as these less-expensive volumes sell out quickly. There's a chance that your textbook may be available as an electronic download. E-books will save you 50 percent off the price of a new textbook. Visit the CSUN Campus Store to find out if your textbook is available as an e-book or visit the bookstore in person.

Are you aware you can sell back used textbooks to the CSUN Campus Store? The amount that you will get depends on the condition of the book and whether an instructor has requested the text for the following semester (in which case you can get up to 50 percent, maybe more, of the original purchase price). The CSUN Campus Store also offers a rent-a-textbook program. A limited number of titles are available for rent and if your textbook is among them, you can save 55 percent off the price of a new textbook. Rented textbooks must be returned (in rentable condition) at the end of the semester. You are free to highlight and make notations in rented textbooks, just as you would in a textbook you plan to sell back.