Cost of Attendance: Explained

21 Sep

Whether you know it or not, there is a limit to how much financial aid you can receive in a year. This is reflected in your Cost of Attendance (COA), which is sometimes referred to as your “budget” when speaking to a financial aid counselor. It includes 1. Tuition & Fees; 2. Housing & food; 3. Travel; 4. Books/ Supplies; and 5. Miscellaneous (think laundry or other random expenses). Your COA is NOT what you are being billed, rather it is an estimate of the total cost of attending school for one year.

  1. Tuition is the biggest variable between students when it comes to COA. The three different standard levels of tuition are based off of your residency as shown on the chart. This will also include your differential fees as well.tuitionfees-image.jpg
  • Differential Fees are added tuition costs for certain colleges or with specific majors (Engineering, Krannert, Polytechnic, and Computer Science).
  • Then, there are fees for classes like horseback riding, wine tasting, etc. While these are added to your bill like Differential Fees, they are not automatically added to your COA! The exception is the course fees for Aviation Tech majors.
  • These Differential and Course Fees are the same for every student regardless of residency.
  1. After Tuition & Fees, everything else other than Travel is the same for each student’s COA, regardless of their residency.housingfood-image
  • Outside of tuition, your biggest expense is almost always going to be your housing and food.
  • If you live on-campus or have a meal plan, this will be included in your bill from Purdue.
  • However, if you live off-campus it will not be on your bill but will still be included in your COA.

Your COA says that on average you should be spending $10,030 combined for your housing and food costs. Depending on your situation this might be much higher than you actually need or it might not be enough.

  • If you find that your housing and food costs will be significantly lower, consider borrowing less if you are taking out student loans.
  • If it is much higher and you need financial aid to help, contact the Financial Aid office.travel-image
  1. The travel portion of the budget is one that will end up extremely different from one student to the next. This is generally meant to be enough for a student to visit home twice throughout the year, but as you can bet the $370 is woefully inadequate for an International Student unless you’re driving to the closest areas in Canada from West Lafayette.bookssupplies-image
  1. Books and Supplies attempts to estimate the costs for your textbooks and other supplies needed for the year (pens, folders, notebooks, etc.). You may also consider using this money in order to buy a computer for yourself in order to do your classwork. If this is the case and your current aid will not be enough to cover it you may consider contacting the Financial Aid office to help increase your budget.miscellaneous-image
  2. The Miscellaneous category are all of the other incurred student costs that don’t fit neatly into the other categories. Costs like toiletries, laundry, clothes, and other personal expenses are included in this diverse category. Although they are smaller purchases, if they are unaccounted for, they can chip away at anyone’s budget.

If you feel like your Cost of Attendance is not representative of your costs of being a student at Purdue for a year and gives you too little room for aid, please contact our Financial Aid office. Conversely, if you find it is higher than you need and you are borrowing to help finance your education, seriously consider taking less in loans! Every dollar you don’t borrow is one you don’t have to pay back – with interest. You are also able to have allowances for child care or other dependent care and costs related to a disability, which is also added into your COA, but you must contact the Financial Aid office for assistance.

Keep in mind that if you increase your Cost of Attendance, that only increases how much aid you are eligible to receive! If you already have less aid than your COA, you probably won’t be getting more just by increasing it.

Financial Aid Contact Information:cost of attendance explanation.jpg
Walk-in appointments in Schleman Hall room 305
Call-in at 765-494-5050
Both available from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. EST Monday through Friday.

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