What is College Financial Aid Series

The cost of attendance is both a very personal number and a standard number in the financial aid process.  Most colleges have a standard number they use to calculate how much financial aid a student will receive.  Need based financial aid is the difference between the cost of attendance and the expected family contribution.  More simply COA – EFC = Family Need.  Even though this is a standard number, each school can vary greatly on what they include in their cost of attendance.

The personal COA should be created for each school you are considering.  The two most common personal expenses that may vary for a student is their  travel costs and personal spending money. The distance of a school from home and the availability of transportation will impact this cost.  Your personal living expense is also highly variable based on where you go to college.  As an example, the cost of social activities in New York City will be much higher than a rural college town in most states.

Parent expenses are not included as part of the college’s cost of attendance.  How far the student’s home  at the school, travel and possible hotel stays need to be added into your budget.  These additional family expenses can significantly increase the cost of a college over the four years.

This cost of attendance video will cover the following important items:

  • Parts of the COA
  • On and Off Campus differences
  • Reasons to appeal a school’s COA

Creating a personal cost of attendance per college can give you a better idea of the total price.   To get professional financial help with the entire college funding process, please visit our Sources page. You can also visit our EFC PLUS page to learn more about our innovative college funding software.