DEFINITION of 'Cost Of Attendance'

A figure provided by colleges and/or college financial offices that estimates the total costs of attending that particular school for a period of one year. Included in the estimate are all reasonable expenses such as tuition, room and board, books and supplies, personal expenses and transportation.

BREAKING DOWN 'Cost Of Attendance'

The cost of attendance is an important factor in determining student financial aid. The expected family contribution (EFC) is subtracted from the cost of attendance to determine the calculated financial need. Since college costs include many expenses beyond tuition, the cost of attendance figure can help families budget for all of the expenses. In certain instances, the cost of tuition can be as little as 50% of the total costs per year for attending a college or university.


If the expected family contribution and financial aid package fail to meet the cost of attendance, the student and his or her family can explore alternative student loans, specialized loans that are intended to fill the gap between traditional financial aid and need.




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