There are many planned and unforeseen expenses that come into play while attending college. Obvious aspects like tuition and books, as well as living expenses and other miscellaneous expenditures are all part of equation when paying for college.
In the world of college financial aid, this is a predetermined figure encompassing a myriad of costs that become, essentially, a student’s financial aid budget. Colleges refer to this as Cost of Attendance (COA).
Tuition & Fees
Each individual school determines the tuition rates of each course in which a student enrolls along with any associated fees. As far as COA is concerned, budgeting is generally handled on the basis of full-time, half-time or part-time enrollment. This criteria is also school specific, but one general semester-based example is 12-16 hours as full-time, 6-11 hours as half-time and 1-5 hours as part-time. Aid amounts are adjusted based on this figure.
Room & Board
Housing and meals are also considered in a student’s budget by the financial aid office. There are several options for students in both of these categories including living on-campus or off-campus and purchasing numerous types of meal plans.
Books & Supplies
The cost of books continues to skyrocket and many classes require extensive supplies. Expenses will fluctuate depending on the number and type of courses the student is taking. Art, design, architecture, healthcare, computer, and similar courses tend to require extra supplies.
Personal & Miscellaneous
A number of other college-related costs aren’t covered under the other categories. They can include clothes, transportation, long distance phone calls, personal hygiene, entertainment, student insurance and meals not covered under school meal plans. Schools generally set this at a very conservative amount.
While this COA formula doesn’t cover every possible thing that can become an educational expense, it gives students and families a good idea of what may have to be covered, either out-of-pocket or by financial aid.