Published: March 8, 2023

Let’s talk about money! According to historical data, when deciding on a graduate program, many folks consider financial cost a major (if not the top) deciding factor. I’m here to talk about it. I believe some of the ways we can address this concern head-on is by providing information upfront so you can assess your options.   

Before we get into the nuts and bolts, I want to introduce myself. My name is Liz Holland, and I am the Enrollment and Marketing Manager for MENV and an alum of the program. I have first-hand experience getting those tuition bills and figuring out ways to make it all work. I want to state a few things before I begin: 1. I am NOT a financial advisor, nor do I work in the Bursars or Financial Aid Office. 2. Finances are personal, so while I try to keep things broad, at the end of the day, you will know what’s best for you, and 3. I/we are here to help you figure all of this out. When we don't have the information you need, we will put you in touch with people that do. Let’s jump in. 

So you just got your admission letter, congrats! I’m so excited about you being a potential member of our community. 


 savings, expenses, tuition, rent, utilities, books, groceries"Let’s look at the cost of the program. To see your cost as a Colorado resident, use this page of the Bursars Office website. To see your cost as a non-Colorado resident or international student, use this page of the Bursar’s Office website. Tuition prices are subject to change based at the Bursar Office's discretion so bookmark this page and come back to it if you need to. Please note these totals do NOT include housing, groceries, and other general living expenses.  

Next, if you are eligible, fill out your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA) form. This will help you to see how much aid (money in loans) the federal government will give you for 2023-2024. If it applies to you, also fill out your Colorado Application for State Financial Aid (ASSET). If you received a MENV programmatic scholarship, we will apply this scholarship money directly to your account. The scholarship amount will be the same regardless of your residency status. Depending on the size of the scholarship, funds may be broken down into portions to spread across your tuition bills while in the program. As an example, MENV disburses scholarship amounts < $20,000 in 2 equal parts in the first year of the program, or in the first year, the award is granted, fall and spring term.We disburse scholarship amounts >= $20,000 in 4 equal disbursements split over 2 consecutive years, the fall and spring semester of each year.

If you intend to enroll, you must pay a $200 deposit to secure your spot. CU Boulder sets the deposit cost. Once you pay this deposit, you can establish your IdentiKey which is the credential you need to register for classes, pay tuition, apply for CU scholarships, etc. After you have your IdentiKey set up, you’ll register for classes. Your tuition bill depends on how many courses/credits you register for. Below is a sample breakdown of credits per semester: 

Fall 2023 

Spring 2024 

Summer 2024 

Fall 2024 

Spring 2025 

13 Credits 

Core class 1 (3cr)

Core class 2 (3cr)

Spec class 1 (3cr)

Spec class 2 (3cr)

CIL 1 (1cr)

11 or 14 Credits

Core class 3 (3cr)

Spec class 3 (3cr)

Elective (3cr)

CIL 2 (2cr) 

(optional elective (3cr))

Capstone (5cr) 

10 Credits 

Elective (3cr) 

Elective (3cr) 

Spec class 4 (3cr) 

CIL 3 (1cr) 

Depending on what you took in Spring 2024

6 or 9 Credits 

(if you took 14 in Spring 2024,

you would take 6 in Spring 2025) 

Sometimes students ask Brendan Park, MENV Academic Advisor, if it saves them any money to overload their credits (more than 15 per semester) and graduate a semester early. Park says, “It really doesn't save them anything, aside from some minor term fees, and often it's just not worth the extra stress of taking on extra coursework.” 


Students earn money in different ways while they are in the program. Here are some examples: 

Graduate Student Assistantship 

MENV offers Graduate Student Assistant (GSA) positions on an as-need basis. To apply for a GSA position, you must first pay the $200 deposit to enroll in the program. MENV hires students to assist with program administration and support faculty and staff. GSAs have the unique opportunity to work alongside faculty and staff and get an inside look at program operations. While each MENV student employee will have an individual set of duties, they also share a collective set of responsibilities. These positions are NOT teaching assistantships (found in many research-based master's programs). Instead, GSA positions are part-time jobs that result in a paycheck on a bi-weekly basis. Again, you must be admitted to and enrolled in MENV before applying to these positions. Learn more about current openings here


CU Boulder has several scholarships students can apply for, you can see a full list here. Note, you can only apply for Graduate School scholarships through Buff Portal. To gain access to Buff Portal, you must first enroll in MENV. Students enrolling in the Masters of the Environment Graduate Program may apply for CU Boulder’s regional grants and awards through the Graduate School after researching their Funding Website (see Awards and Grants here). Similarly, utilizing a scholarship search engine like Scholarship America or Scholly may also provide unique funding opportunities.

 If you are looking at external scholarships, use the following qualifications to make sure they can apply to our program. 

  1. Graduate level program 
  2. Professional degrees are included (some scholarships can only be used in research-based programs) 
  3. Environmental program/sustainability programs
  4. Residency status (make sure the scholarship would apply to you)--if you need assistance in this space, feel free to reach out to me. 

When our team becomes aware of scholarships, we post them here and/or send them out via email. 

Full-/Part-Time Work 

Some students elect to work on and off campus while in MENV. One thing to consider is that over the summer between your first and second year, MENV requires you to work 300 hours with your Capstone team and partner, making up the bulk of your Capstone time. During this part of the Project, consider your flexibility in other work obligations. 


Now it’s time to give you my real-world experience while in the program. For some background, I moved to Colorado in December 2020 because MENV admitted me to a one-off January 2021 cohort. We decided not to do this again. I also elected to complete the program in 17 months, which is different from the default 22-month duration in place now.

When I moved, I changed my address on major documents immediately, because I knew I wanted to petition for Colorado Residency for a lower tuition rate. Until the Fall of 2021, I paid non-resident tuition. My financial situation was that I had some familial support (for a little while), savings, and student loans to help me get through the program. 


First semester, I took 12 credits, resulting in a bill of $17,586.77. I lived in a one-bedroom/one-batA man, two women, and another man stand behind a white dog in front of a brick home. hroom apartment right next to Folsom Field. I paid $1,230 per month for rent and around an additional $90 for utilities (wifi, electricity, water).

During my first semester, a fellow MENV student approached me about living with him and two other MENV students. Knowing that my money was running out and that living with people could be fun, I decided to sign a lease with them. 

Over the summer, I took ten credits and paid $14,613.24. Rent in my new living situation was $750/month plus $60 in utilities (split between my housemates and me). During this time, I applied for and got a GSA position with the program, which paid around $20 per hour. 

In the fall, I took 14 credits and paid $17,677.13. I switched over to Colorado resident status and began taking out federal loans.

In the spring, I took 12 credits. At this point, I learned that I was eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits and Medicaid through Boulder County. I received anywhere from $300-$400 a month for food (this was also a part of COVID relief funding from Boulder County). 


Figuring out how to pay for everything can be overwhelming so in this section, we want to provide you with resources that could be helpful as you navigate this space. 

Slack Channel for roommate/housing finding 

As an admitted student, MENV administrators will add you to a Slack channel where you can meet other accepted students. We also create a Fall 2023 Housing channel so you can interact with other new and current students to find a spot to stay. From time to time, administrators will post listings they see in and around town.