The Cost of BYU-Idaho: Is It Really Affordable?

Rexburg, Idaho is home to one of the most affordable colleges with an amazing quality education in the United States. The high standards of Brigham Young University – Idaho (BYU-Idaho or BYU-I) keep the students performing well. But are they starting to get a little too high? Academic scholarships require higher GPAs, student health insurance soared by $130, and the rent rates are increasing all around the city.

This article is an assessment of housing, work, necessities, and the cost of school. It does not include food or gas due to the nature of their prices. It is informational to those attending school here and very helpful for those who are considering attending school here.

Near the bottom of the article, under the subsection titled, “Assessment,” there will be an easy to read summary of the cost of living here in Rexburg as a BYU-Idaho student. NOTE: The assessments are using estimated numbers and do not accurately reflect my own personal costs or income.


Single male students who live in “BYU-I Approved Housing” are able to pay semester rates anywhere from $795 to $1,680 per semester. The cheapest single female student housing off-campus is $895 per semester. Since I’m a man, we will assume the cost of living here are male rates. The married student housing rates can be hard to assess because they’re always changing. However, we will assume that an apartment costs anywhere from $526 – $700 per month.


When it comes to employment in Rexburg, many students work on campus. The campus minimum wage is $8.40 per hour. This is higher than the Idaho’s state minimum wage, which is the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Before taxes are taken out, our students can earn $672.00 per month on campus or $580 per month off campus. Students working on campus are allowed to work up to 20 hours per week.

Don’t fall for what I call the “higher wage fallacy.” This fallacy is the notion that you will earn more money because the rate of pay is higher. My job pays $8.60 per hour, but I don’t work 20 hours per week like our last example does. My job, early morning custodial, only allows you to work 15 hours per week if you are not a lead or supervisor. This means that, before taxes, I make $516.00 per month.

The Issues of Working While Going to School

The issue that I have with working as early morning custodial is that it is most definitely not for everybody. It’s hard work for little pay. The shift is 4:00 am to 7:00 am. The majority of us have to go to bed early in order to really function. But if you want a good GPA, you should consider not working. Much of the time, I experience memory loss of what I was studying the previous night. Let’s not forget  that we need sleep for memory retention.

Waking up at 3:30 am is rough. If you go to bed around 11 pm, you may not want this job. Four hours of sleep doesn’t work out very well, even if you take a nap later in the day. Either way, you should find a job that allows you to sleep for around eight hours after your homework is all done.


This is a huge variable since everybody is different. I pay $116 per month for cell phone service for my wife and I. I also have a car payment of $232 per month and a monthly insurance premium of $85 for my wife and I. This means that my wife and I have an additional $433.00 on top of rent, food, and utilities. Depending on where you live as a married student, you may or may not have to pay for utilities as it is included in your rent.

Cost of School

Since BYU-Idaho is owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it only makes sense that we have an LDS Tuition rate for members of the church. LDS Tuition costs $1,875 per semester. Books are a funny little expense because I’ve had a semester where my books cost $300 and this next semester my books are $230 or so. It is always safe to budget $500 per semester for your books. If you ended up using that much, great! If you don’t need that much, great! You’ve got an extra $500 to play with!

Financial Aid

There are scholarships, pell grants, and loans available. Of course, only one of these things came from the school. The school has need-based scholarships and academic scholarships. Last year, the GPA requirements changed. In order for you to receive 1/4 LDS tuition as a sophomore, junior, or senior, you need a GPA of 3.75. 1/2 LDS tuition needs a 3.9. Full LDS tuition requires you to have a 3.95 before you can receive it.


Single Male Student – One Semester

  • Housing: $1,000 (The Pines)
  • Phone: $200 ($50 x 4 months)
  • Car Payment: $928 ($232 x 4 months)
  • Car Insurance: $460 ($115 x 4 months)
  • Student Health Insurance: $528
  • LDS Tuition: $1,875
  • Books: $230
  • Early AM Custodial Job: $2,064
  • Financial Aid: $5,600
  • Total Leftover: $2,443

Single Male Student – One School Year (Two Semesters)

  • Housing: $2,000
  • Phone: $400 ($50 x 4 months)
  • Car Payment: $1,856 ($232 x 4 months)
  • Car Insurance: $920 ($115 x 4 months)
  • Student Health Insurance: $1,056
  • LDS Tuition: $3,750
  • Books: $460
  • Early AM Custodial Job: $4,128
  • Financial Aid: $11,200
  • Total Leftover: $4,886

As we can see, working on campus as early morning custodial helped a lot so that I have money for food and gas when I was single during a given semester. If you’re not engaged and from a state with a higher minimum wage like Washington or Oregon, it would be best if you went home during your “off track” and worked for five months. That is, if you’re not taking all three semesters in a year like me. If you’re planning on working in the summer back home and coming out here, be sure that you make at least the amount you need to get back out here as well as the total leftover in this assessment. It’s imperative that you do all you can to work as little as possible so that you can focus on your studies.

Married Students – One Semester (A married student couple receiving the same amount of financial aid; One person working)

  • Housing: $2,240 ($560 x 4)
  • Phone: $464 ($116 x 4 months)
  • Car Payment: $928 ($232 x 4 months)
  • Car Insurance: $340 ($85 x 4 months)
  • Student Health Insurance: $1,056
  • LDS Tuition: $3,750
  • Books: $600
  • Utilities: $100 ($20 x 4; overestimated)
  • Early AM Custodial Job: $2,064
  • Financial Aid: $12,400
  • Total Leftover: $4,986

This may not seem like a whole lot left over. It’s actually more than what you’d have left over if you were single for a year! But before  you celebrate and look for someone to get married to, please consider something first. You still have gas and food to pay for. Now, for one person, this is more than enough. However, your costs will bump up when you’re married. Think about it. If you spent $250 per month on food, expect to pay around $350 – 400 per month. Also, your gas could increase if you’re doing more things. It really all depends on you and your habits.

So, is it affordable to go to school here? You be the judge! It’s not easy to live and work here. Especially since jobs can be hard to find out here. I highly recommend this school to those of you who are looking for a great school that allows you to live off loans and summer job money (if you qualify). Don’t worry, it’s not just a school for Mormons.

To apply to BYU-Idaho, click here.



  1. I find this article a little bit misleading and a bit judgmental as well. I attended school here many years ago. I worked on the same campus, and did some of the same work as the author did. I also was married for a time while I lived in Rexburg. The cost here, compared to most regular large universities in the country, is phenomenal. Planning ones finances will make all the difference. I paid for my car before starting college, taking away a car payment burden. A cell phone is also an expense that could be considerably cheaper in the scenario. I look back on the hard times I had there as a newlywed, and realize how much I learned from the life experience. It is about learning to live within your means. I am happy that as I prepare to send my own children there for school, years later, between tuition and housing, that it is affordable enough that I will most likely be able to cash flow it and help my children avoid student loan debts that I accrued. Although it is one of the few colleges in the country that you can attend, and actually save your money from working in the summertime and still afford to pay for your expenses for the semester (even if you choose not to work-although I did). And seeing what the school will discount on tuition for good grades- that was not even an option years ago. Be grateful that tithing covers such a huge chunk of the cost. I don’t know of another private university that gives its church members that huge of a discount.


    1. Thanks for the input! I do leave it up to the reader to decide whether it’s affordable or not. But there are plenty of other issues in Rexburg that shouldn’t be ignored either. For example, the university requires single students to live in approved housing (with few exceptions), which creates an unfair oligopoly. It’s not always about living within your means. For me, living within my means took me back to Eugene, Oregon, to the University of Oregon. Sure, everything is more expensive here, including tuition. But I’m not dependent on the church for help with rent out here. In Rexburg, I worked extremely hard. My wife worked hard, too. But it just never seemed to be enough there.

      In short, I reread my article and found little to no judgment on the church nor on BYU-Idaho, for which I’m extremely grateful for the education I did get. However, I could easily see that you have some opinions about the expenses my wife and I had, without even trying to be understanding. Then again, there’s a reason why many leave BYU-Idaho and become inactive in the church.


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