Updated on January 28th, 2024
For many students, attending college in Puerto Rico seems like the perfect option. It may be a chance to remain home for students from the islands or an opportunity to study in a tropical location for students hailing from the United States. For many, choosing an ideal school may prove tricky. Plus, figuring out how to cover the cost of college is never an easy feat.
If your student plans on attending college in Puerto Rico, scholarships can make nearly any school affordable. If you and your student want to learn about Puerto Rico scholarships, sign up for our free college scholarship webinar! Take a quick trip over to http://thescholarshipsystem.com/freewebinar to reserve a spot today.
Luckily, specific strategies can make attending colleges in Puerto Rico easier to manage. If your student needs to pick the perfect Puerto Rico college or university for their education, here’s what they need to know.
- 1 About Puerto Rico
- 2 Colleges and Universities in Puerto Rico
- 3 Puerto Rico Financial Aid
- 4 Living and Getting Around in Puerto Rico
- 5 Making Money in Puerto Rico
About Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States, and it maintains an official Commonwealth status. That means Americans and Puerto Ricans can travel between the US and the islands freely, which is excellent news for students who want to attend college there but aren’t originally from Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico is an intriguing place – technically, an archipelago featuring many islands – offering up nearly 300 miles of coastline brimming with beautiful beaches. It was initially solely home to the Taino people, but after Christopher Columbus’s arrival, it was claimed as a Spanish colony. Spain had control over Puerto Rico for more than 400 years, but it was ceded to the United States in 1898, though it never became a state.
As for the weather, Puerto Rico is in the subtropical Caribbean region. Generally, that means warm temperatures and ample humidity. Throughout the year, the temperatures usually range from 72°F to 89°F, which most would consider manageable. Precipitation is common, especially in the wet season, which occurs between May and October, and the area can experience a variety of tropical storms, including hurricanes.
Colleges and Universities in Puerto Rico
There is a total of 145 universities and colleges in Puerto Rico. There are 76 four-year schools, along with 69 trade schools, technical schools, and community colleges in Puerto Rico.
For most students, checking out every single option isn’t practical. Fortunately, students can streamline their college search by using two techniques. Here’s what they need to do.
College Towns in Puerto Rico
Most students think they need to begin a college search by concentrating on the available schools. However, starting with college towns is often a better choice. That allows students to factor in the bigger picture, ensuring the location they choose is suitable for their broader needs.
Generally, students want to check out each of the cities to see if they’re matches. Students should consider the overall culture, access to amenities, and similar factors. That way, they can identify their ideal location and then explore schools nearby to find one that meets their needs.
Here is a list of Puerto Rico college towns:
- San Juan
Many students will find that at least one of the cities above is a solid fit. However, for students who don’t find their perfect match, branching out is okay, too. Ultimately, what matters most is that students end up in the best place for them, so exploring other options is always an intelligent move if the locations above aren’t ideal.
Major Puerto Rico Colleges and Universities
For students focused on their academic experience, beginning their search by checking out major Puerto Rico colleges is potentially the better choice. That allows students to explore schools that are known for offering higher-quality experiences.
Here is a list of the top universities in Puerto Rico:
- National University College
- Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico
- Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico
- Universidad de Puerto Rico en Utuado
- University of Puerto Rico
While the list of universities in Puerto Rico above may seem short, it’s critical to note that many have several locations across Puerto Rico. As a result, students can find a campus that meets their needs through one of those institutions in most cases.
When exploring schools, students need to note which ones are Spanish or English-speaking universities in Puerto Rico, too. This isn’t something that’s usually a concern for American students planning to study in the United States. That’s why it’s easy to accidentally overlook and needs to be part of the equation.
Puerto Rico Financial Aid
Once students start identifying which college or university is their best fit, it’s time to handle the tougher part of the equation: covering the cost. Generally, students use financial aid to address at least a portion of their expenses. While student loans can be part of that equation, those result in debt, which isn’t ideal. That’s why scholarships in Puerto Rico are often the better choice.
Typically, there are two types of Puerto Rican college scholarships. First, students may find options that focus on Puerto Rico residents, with residency usually based on requirements similar to in-state-style tuition. Second, Puerto Rican scholarship options may focus on students of Puerto Rican descent, with some being usable at colleges in Puerto Rico or in various states. As a result, students need to review the eligibility requirements carefully.
It’s also critical to understand that students going to college in Puerto Rico may have other scholarship or grant options. For example, institutional awards may be open to any enrolled student or students studying specific majors at a particular college without any consideration for residency or descent. That means every student should check these scholarships and grants out, as valuable awards are often available.
Puerto Rico College Grants
Grants for Puerto Rican students aren’t as plentiful compared to what’s available for students heading to various states for college, which may be discouraging. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t any of this type of financial aid available.
For students heading to participating accredited universities in Puerto Rico, Pell Grants can make the cost of college easier to manage. There may also be options available through a student’s selected school. For Puerto Rican students, Hispanic or minority grants that are usable at Spanish or English colleges in Puerto Rico may also work well.
Puerto Rico Scholarships
When it comes to scholarships, Puerto Rico also has limited options. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some solid Puerto Rican scholarships out there.
Students do need to check the eligibility requirements closely. Some awards are available to a variety of students attending schools in Puerto Rico, while others focus on students of Puerto Rican heritage. Plus, other rules are potentially in the mix, so students need to review everything carefully before applying.
Here are some Puerto Rico scholarships for students to explore:
- National Puerto Rican Day Parade Scholarship
- Puerto Rican Bar Association Scholarship
- Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce Scholarship
- Unidos X Puerto Rico Scholarship
Living and Getting Around in Puerto Rico
Before going to college in Puerto Rico, it’s helpful if students know what living and getting around in the area is like. That way, they can prepare for their on-campus and off-campus needs, making their transition easier. Here’s what students should know.
Housing in Puerto Rico
After choosing the perfect Spanish or English-speaking colleges in Puerto Rico to meet their needs, students have to figure out what housing option is the best fit. For most students, that involves deciding between dorms and off-campus apartments.
Renting in Puerto Rico is surprisingly affordable. Often, a one-bedroom apartment has a fair market value of $475 per month, while a two-bedroom is a mere $539 per month. With a roommate that can make a rental outright cheap, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right fit for everyone. For those who feel the cost of renting is too high or prefer the convenience of being on-campus, getting a dorm room at their chosen Puerto Rico universities is likely the better choice.
When students need to head off-campus, Puerto Rico does have some solid options. There are públicos, and those offer as a sort of van-based shared taxi service with designated pickup points. Regular taxis are an option in some areas, as well as buses. Plus, there are some rail services in specific locations.
For longer-distance travel, flying is an option. Here are the major airports in Puerto Rico:
Things to Do in Puerto Rico
When it’s time for fun or relaxation, Puerto Rico has plenty to offer. Old San Juan is excellent for a stroll, and part of the city is even a World Heritage Site. A trip to El Yunque National Forest is also a solid choice, especially for students who enjoy spending time outdoors.
Beaches abound in Puerto Rico, and many of them are breathtaking. Flamenco Beach is one of the more popular options, featuring living coral reefs, sea turtles, and much more. Bioluminescent Mosquito Bay is also a sight to behold, particularly at night.
For students seeking a thrill, there are several adventure parks in Puerto Rico. Many of them offer activities like ziplining that are sure to get the blood pumping, all while offering up fantastic views. As an indoor activity, the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico is an excellent choice.
Making Money in Puerto Rico
Many college students need more to support themselves than what financial aid provides. That means learning about what it’s like to make money in Puerto Rico is a smart move. Here’s an overview of what students should know.
Since Puerto Rico is a US territory, students with US citizenship can work in the area without issue. In many cases, students focus on minimum wage jobs, as they don’t require much past experience and often offer more schedule flexibility.
In Puerto Rico, the minimum wage is $9.50 per hour, though it increases to $10.50 per hour on July 1, 2024. For tipped employees, the minimum wage is technically $2.13 per hour. However, if their tips don’t add up to enough to get them to the equivalent of the regular minimum wage, the worker’s employer is required to make up the difference.
An area’s unemployment rate has a direct impact on job availability. Low unemployment usually means securing a position is easier than if unemployment is high.
In Puerto Rico (as of December 2023), the unemployment rate is 3.7 percent. That aligns with the national unemployment rate, which is also sitting at 3.7 percent. Generally, those figures are considered low, which may mean students will have little issue finding a part-time job.
Puerto Rico Key Industries
Understanding a region’s key industries helps students see where job opportunities are most plentiful, so it’s often valuable information. In Puerto Rico, manufacturing is big business, as it’s essentially the most significant part of the economy.
Real estate and rentals are also significant industries. The same is true of the tourism and hospitality sectors.