Cost of Attendance Definition

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid houses many terms that can confuse those making an application for the first time. One of these terms is the cost of attendance. Abbreviated as COA, find its definition and what it means for a student applying for federal student aid.

There is certainly a cost linked with pursuing higher education. The US is one of the most expensive countries to study in, but the costs vary from state to state and college to college. Most two-year and four-year universities and colleges calculate their cost of attendance for FAFSA purposes. 

The cost of attendance is an important factor in determining if a student is eligible for receiving federal student aid, and if so, the amount. This is then compared with the student’s expected family contribution (EFC) and the federal student aid amount is calculated. If the EFC is more than the school’s cost of attendance, the student won’t be eligible for student aid. 

What’s included in COA?

The cost of attendance covers everything that a regular student would spend during an academic year. The tuition fees, textbooks, housing, utilities, transportation, meals, pretty much anything that involves school, basic needs, and leisure activities are accounted for in the cost of attendance. 

So, the COA doesn’t only include costs associated with the school costs. It covers more than just that, and it’s a lot higher than the actual tuition fees and other costs that come with pursuing higher education. To know the cost of attendance of a school, contact the financial aid office. 

Additionally, note that the cost of attendance is calculated prior to the start of the academic year. Due to the nature of when the FAFSA applications are opened, you can know a school’s cost of attendance about two years before the semester begins.

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