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FAQ: Prospective Students

It is common for parents and students to have a lot of questions on the college admissions process at the University of Utah. The Office of Admissions has compiled this list of frequently asked questions and their answers from the University of Utah's Office of Admissions and the Office of Financial Aid.

Students and parents are encouraged to contact these offices for further information.

What GPA do I need to be admitted?

Our admission evaluation process is holistic, which means that each applicant is reviewed individually and consideration is given based on, but not limited to, the following factors, with great emphasis given to the primary factors.

Primary Factors

  • Quality of course and rigor
  • Grade trends
  • Cumulative un-weighted GPA
  • Quality of high school

Secondary Factors

  • Academic honors
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Commitment to community engagement, citizenship and leadership
  • Application questions (extraordinary family obligations, military service, extenuating circumstances)

The average student admitted to the freshmen class of fall 2015 had a GPA between 3.34 and 3.89. Please note, however, that we are more focused on your actual grades and grade trends than on the GPA itself. Was there an upward or downward trend to the grades? All grades are also taken in the context of the student's curriculum at their high school.

What standardized tests do I need to take and what scores do I need?

Applicants must submit an SAT and/or ACT score, which must be sent to the Office of Admissions electronically directly from the testing agency. Students can take either test multiple times, and the University of Utah will use the best total score from one sitting. In some instances non-native speakers of English and international applicants must prove English proficiency by submitting a TOEFL and/or IELTS test score.

For the admitted class of 2015, the middle 50th percentile ranges for the ACT was 21-28 and the SAT (critical reading & math) was 1010-1300. Please note, however, that no test score or GPA will guarantee admission, and that the student's entire application package is taken into consideration when making admissions decisions.

How are honors and AP, IB and Concurrent Enrollment courses accounted for in the admissions process?

Honors, AP, and/or IB courses are offered at most high schools throughout the country, and the University of Utah encourages students to enroll in these more challenging courses in subjects they feel they can be successful in. When reviewing an application, the curriculum is looked at in the context of the offerings at the high school. In order to be competitive for admission, students are encouraged to enroll—and subsequently be very successful—in these courses. For more detailed information about how your courses or special credit might be applied at the University of Utah please refer to our special credits information here

I have taken college credit courses while in high school how should I apply (as a freshman or transfer student)?

Freshman students are those who have not previously enrolled in another college or university, or who those who have taken college courses while still in high school.

Transfer students are those who have completed any college courses from a regionally-accredited college or university after graduating high school.

How much does class rank count?

Many high schools no longer use class rank for their students. If it is offered, it helps to consider the student in the context of their high school. However, the lack of a class rank does not negatively impact chances for admission. 

How much do essays count?

The University of Utah exclusively uses an institutional admissions application for prospective students to complete when applying, in which there are currently no essays required. However, if you are interested the University of Utah Honors College, you will need to complete an essay prompt via the general university admissions application (you can view this now on the application page). This essay will not affect your general admissions application for the University of Utah, but will help give the Honors College a better picture of who the student is and why they're interested in studying and participating in the honors program. They help assess the applicant's written communication skills such as writing quality, content, style and originality/risk-taking, as well as any other evidence of academic potential. The Honors College seeks intellectually engaged, well-rounded students who want to make a difference in the world they live in. Students who apply and are accepted into the Honors College are making a commitment to a liberal arts curriculum, the pursuit of an Honors Degree and participation in the Honors community of scholars. 

How much does parents' alumni status count?

The University of Utah values the relationship it has with current and former students. These students and alumni are part of the University of Utah community; they provide service and support to the larger University community. As such, application reviewers take into consideration applicants who have a direct relationship with a family member who has attended the University of Utah as a degree-seeking student and had graduated from the University of Utah with a degree. 

How much do recommendations count?

Currently the University of Utah currently does not require letters of recommendation for the application process. However, please keep in mind that you may need multiple letters of recommendation for additional departmental, college, and major scholarship applications available through the Scholarship Office. These recommendations will typically be used to note academic, leadership, and community engagement awards or recognition received. They can also display evidence of the student's intellectual curiosity and in-depth commitment to particular personal and academic areas of interest. Keep in mind that these letters should come from a counselor, teacher, employer, and/or an individual that can speak to these characteristics.

How much does the admissions office know about my high school?

The Office of Undergraduate Admissions has a large staff that divides the country into territories that staff members are responsible for. The admissions professionals get to know their schools well, particularly those schools that regularly send a large volume of applications to the University of Utah. They know the counselors, the academic programs and the quality of the students.

To further their understanding of a high school, the University of Utah admissions professionals will rely on high school profiles and high school counselor input. If there are questions about the high school, the University of Utah will contact the high school counselors. 

How much do extracurricular activities count? Should I be a little involved in lots of activities or very active in a few activities?

Extracurricular activities are very important and reveal a lot to admissions professionals. They are looking for activities that you've been involved with on more than just a superficial level. Focus and duration are the key words when it comes to extracurricular activities.

Being involved in a few clubs continually and taking leadership roles or reaching certain levels of accomplishment are much more impressive than being a member in several clubs or groups.

Activities that cluster around a specific interest also are a plus. For example, a student in the drama club, who also works with a community group that does outreach theater programs for kids and is involved every year with the class play, is someone who has demonstrated a definite interest and dedication.

Students who can't take part in extracurricular activities because of family financial situations aren't out of the running. Some students are working close to full-time schedules as high school students, and those situations are taken into consideration. Work experience is valued. 

Are some extracurricular activities rated higher than others?

Specific activities don't count more than others. In other words, the marching band doesn't get more weight than the soccer team. However, activities that lead to recognition and awards might get special consideration, particularly those that lead to recognition on the state and national level. Being a state champ in debate or becoming an Eagle Scout, for example, represent a special level of achievement and are considerable accomplishments. Also, many of our programs like to see that at least some of a student's activities are aligned with their academic area of interest. 

Is it better to apply early in the admissions process? Does it hurt my chances if I'm applying to lots of schools?

Applications are accepted from August through April 1st; however, applying early and by the priority deadline of December 1st is strongly advised. All applicants' admissions decisions are released based on the application deadline they have met. For example, each student that meets our priority deadline of December 1st will receive an admissions notification by January 15th. Regardless of when you're admitted to the University of Utah, you have until the national enrollment deposit deadline of May 1 to accept your offer. That gives you time to consider your other options and your financial aid package, if applicable. 

Are there other factors that are considered in the admissions process?

Certain schools and colleges within the University of Utah have specific criteria. For example, the School of Music, Theatre & Dance require auditions, the College of Architecture requires a portfolio and the College of Engineering, Business and Nursing require perquisite courses be completed to apply. In order to find out more about these requirements we suggest you speak with an academic advisor within the college or department by request a meeting, attend an information session, or receiving a tour. 

What if there's one bad semester (or year) on my transcript? Will that put me out of the running?

The Office of Undergraduate Admissions likes to see steady improvement in academics or maintenance of good grades. However, if there is a blip during the four years, there can be a logical explanation (extenuating circumstances, the death of a family member, severe illness, etc.) that should be included with the application. If the explanation is not sound, then the decline of information may have a negative impact on the review.

What if I get a case of "senioritis" once I get accepted?

A case of senioritis can have serious repercussions. All students are required to send the Office of Undergraduate Admissions their official final high school transcript with proof of graduation, all of which are reviewed for declining grade trends. If there is a serious, decisive and obvious slump, the office can and can choose revoke its offer of admission. 

What is the cost of tuition and fees?

The Tuition Office provides up-to-date estimates on the cost of attendance, including tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, and personal and miscellaneous expenses. For 2016-2017, we estimate that in-state freshmen living on campus can expect to pay $22,238; out-of-state freshman can expect to pay $38,924. Below is an estimated Cost of Attendance for an Undergraduate student attending fall and spring semesters, with a course load of 12 credit hours per semester. Use this information to estimate what your costs will be:  

Academic Year

Living On Campus

Living Off Campus

Living With Parent(s)

Room and Board 9,738* 9,936* 1,836*
Books and Supplies




Miscellaneous ** 2,418 2,418 2,418
Transportation 1,260 1,260 1,260
Tuition and Fees Resident: 7,680
Non-Resident: 24,276
Resident: 7,680
Non-Resident: 24,276
Resident: 7,680
Non-Resident: 24,276

Total§ (estimated cost of attendance)

Resident: $22,328

Non-Resident: $38,924*

Resident: $22,526 

Non-Resident: $39,122*

Resident: $14,426 

Non-Resident: $31,022*

All costs are subject to change without notice and are expected to increase annually. The Cost of Attendance is based on estimated figures and may not accurately reflect an individual students costs. The combination of the direct and indirect costs will be used to determine financial aid. *Please note, this rate is based on reported average costs for all undergraduate students at the U. Freshman costs may be up to $2-3K less, due to lower freshman housing fees. Estimated costs may vary based on room type and meal plan selection. **Miscellaneous costs include things like medical expenses, clothing, haircuts, telephone, and other utilities, etc. § Fees associated with student loan borrowing have been accounted for in the total budget for both Residents and Non-residents. Loan fees will vary.

How do I apply for scholarships?

Your application to the University of Utah doubles as your merit and diversity-based scholarship application for university scholarships. We encourage you to apply for departmental, college, or other third-party scholarships. Please keep in mind that these additional scholarships will require a separate application process and have various deadlines. 

How do I apply for need-based aid?

In order to qualify for any federal programs, you must fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). The University of Utah attaches high priority to need-based financial aid in order to fulfill its commitment to its undergraduate students who demonstrated financial need. Need-based grants are the cornerstone of the University of Utah aid programs to ensure that an economically diverse student population can enroll at the University. 

What percentage of students receives need-based financial aid?

For the 2014-2015 academic year, over 77 percent of University of Utah freshmen received some form of aid.

If I am an out of state student, can I gain residency in the state of Utah (for tuition purposes)?

There are different tuition rates for Utah residents and for nonresidents, based on the Utah State Law, 53B-8-102 and the Board of Regents R512, Policies and Procedures. Your initial residency classification is made when you are admitted and will be included in your Official Letter of Acceptance. If you are classified as a Nonresident but feel you should qualify for resident status, you may submit an Application for Residency Reclassification with the appropriate supporting documents.

Nonresident students who are eligible for a reclassification of their residency status must complete the reclassification application or the certification form. The form must be submitted to Office of Admissions with the appropriate supporting documents. The forms and details can be found on the University of Utah Residency website

Additional Resources

See what else the University of Utah has to offer here

Last Updated: 1/11/19