Written by: M Katie Helle, CPA

For many, a right of passage after graduating high school is to seek higher education.  What many students don’t realize is the cost of attending college.  According to ValuePenguin, the average tuition for an in-state student in Arizona is $11,220 per year.  This cost can scare students into thinking they cannot afford higher education.  The good news is there are some financial options when pursuing a college education.

The federal government offers grants, work-study programs, and federal student loans.  Federal grants and work-study programs typically provide aid that does not need to be repaid.  Student loans, however, do have to be paid back.  To determine eligibility, you would need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to see what you may qualify for.

The internet is a powerful tool for seeking scholarship opportunities.  Scholarships may come from companies or even the college or university you are looking to attend.  Searching for scholarships may take a little digging and patience, but it can be pretty rewarding. You can also check out College Bound AZ which helps underrepresented students get full scholarships. The benefit of scholarships is they do not have to be repaid.

Many employers now offer tuition assistance programs to help pay for college education.  Check with your human resources department to see if these employee benefits are offered.

Finally, students can seek out private student loans.  These typically come from private lenders such as banks and credit unions.  These types of student loans would be the last resort option as they typically have higher interest rates with stricter payback terms when compared to federal student loans.

Some students combine all the above when paying for their higher education.  It is good to look at all options and what provides the greatest benefit to the student.


Katie Helle has been in public accounting since 2009, with experience in individual and small business taxation, specializing in payroll and sales tax reporting and compliance and QuickBooks accounting software. She is an Arizona native and resides in Chandler, Arizona with her husband, young daughter, and two goldendoodles.  Outside the office, she is actively involved with community outreach, enjoys fitness, and can be found with a power tool or two in her hand for her many crafts.