Understanding the Costs of College
Many students â€” especially those whose parents never attended college â€” assume
that a postsecondary education is out of their financial reach.
Paying for an Education
Colleges that charge $20,000 per year and more do exist, but they are the exception. In 2005-2006, the average in-state full-time tuition and fees per year for an undergraduate at a four-year public university was $5,206. (Source: National Center for Education Statistics, Higher Education General Information Survey.) Typically, community colleges cost less and private schools cost more.
Cost of Attendance (COA)
When you apply for federal student aid, the financial aid administrator at your college or career school uses your cost of attendance (COA) in determining how much aid you may receive. The COA is the total amount it will cost a student to go to schoolâ€”usually expressed as a yearly figure. Itâ€™s determined using rules established by law.
The COA includes tuition and fees; on-campus room and board (or a housing and food allowance for off-campus students); and allowances for books, supplies, transportation, loan fees, and, if applicable, dependent care; costs related to a disability; and miscellaneous expenses, including an allowance for the rental or purchase of a personal computer.
Also included are reasonable costs for eligible study-abroad programs. For students attending less than half time, the COA includes only tuition and fees and an allowance for books, supplies, transportation, and dependent-care expenses.
Talk to the financial aid administrator at the school youâ€™re planning to attend if you have any unusual expenses that might affect your cost of attendance. For more information about federal student aid, visit the Funding section of this Web site.
This site contains information produced by the US Dept.of Education and compiled by the site owners.
We are not responsible for the accuracy or completeness of this information.
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