Tag Archives: COA

Financial Aid February: Understanding your Award Notice

9 Feb financial-aid-february-leader

If you — as a newly accepted student — applied for financial aid and submitted all verification information that was requested you should expect to receive an award notice from Purdue Division of Financial Aid (DFA) in late February.

This will be sent to your Purdue.edu email address, which you gain access to by activating your career account. The email notification directs students to view their financial aid offer online in their myPurdue system under the Financial tab. Notifications will also be sent to parents who supplied a parent email address on the FAFSA.

First-time students at Purdue will receive an award letter through postal mail. Families can review the recorded Paying for Purdue Award Notice Webinar online as an additional resource.

Award letter example

While the first place that your eyes will look is undoubtedly the Free Money section, a better place to start is by looking at the estimated Cost of Attendance (COA) on the right side. The COA is not your bill! Rather, it is an estimate of the costs of being a full-time student and living in West Lafayette for the school year. It also shows the maximum amount of aid you are allowed to receive for the year, not what you ought to be taking. Your actual bill will come later once you’ve signed up for courses. The only costs you will owe Purdue directly are for tuition/ fees, a meal plan (if you have one), and housing costs if you live on campus.

Now that you know that maximum amount of aid you can receive, the free money awaits. If you have any grants or scholarships, they will appear here. If you have an outside scholarship and have not reported it yet , you can do that via your myPurdue. Grants and scholarships are the ideal form of aid since you do not have to pay them back!

If you subtract your gift aid from the Cost of Attendance, you are left with your remaining “Net Cost”. You can look to cover this amount with the “self-help aid”, using money you already have, or a combination of the two. This is the amount you must cover with money you either have now or in the future.

The self-help aid section is where your offered loans and work study will show up. While these options aren’t as preferable as free money they are a better option for many than trying to pay out of pocket.Fin Aid Feb Award Notice.jpg

It’s important to know that while work study is a form of financial aid, it does not credit your account like the other forms of aid do! Having work study opens up many employers on and around campus who will only hire work study students. The student still needs to find a job and earn the money which is paid via a bi-weekly paycheck. If you don’t work enough hours to receive your entire work study amount, you don’t receive it. Work study is a good way to be able to supply yourself with spending money throughout the year, but it is not a reliable way to pay your Purdue bill since you receive it after the bill is already due.

The other type of self-help aid is the loan. Every loan is slightly different, both in interest and in the steps you need to take to receive it. Federal loans typically are preferable to private loans and often offer more flexible repayment options as well.

As you review the award notice and look up different Financial Aid Terms, keep in mind that grants and scholarships are types of gift aid that do not need to be repaid. Loans and work-study are types of self-help financial aid that must be repaid either in money or labor.fin_need.png

One question that often comes up is where the FAFSA fits into all of this? The FAFSA’s primary job is to create the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) number, which reflects a family’s anticipated financial strength. The formula for financial need is made by subtracting the EFC from the Cost of Attendance. The remaining amount is the maximum amount of need-based aid a student is eligible for. This can be scholarships/ grants with a need requirement, subsidized loans, or Federal Work Study. It is not guaranteed that your financial need will be filled with need-based aid.

Remember that even if you don’t think you will be eligible for need-based aid, you should still file the FAFSA as some scholarships have it as one of their requirements!

Cost of Attendance: Explained

21 Sep cost-of-attendance-cover-leader

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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