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.




RELATED TERMS
  1. Expected Family Contribution - ...

    The amount of money that a student's family is expected to contribute ...
  2. 529 Prepaid Tuition Plan

    A tax-advantaged method for paying future college tuition costs ...
  3. Tuition Insurance

    A type of insurance that allows families to recoup some or all ...
  4. 529 Plan

    A 529 plan provides tax advantages when saving and paying for ...
  5. CSS/Financial Aid PROFILEĀ®

    Besides the FAFSA, you may need this online form to apply for ...
  6. Stafford Loan

    A type of federal, fixed-rate student loan that was available ...
Related Articles
  1. Small Business

    Go To College Or Become An Entrepreneur?

    The rising cost of higher education and high unemployment rate following the Great Recession has caused many young people to question the value of college.
  2. Personal Finance

    4 Ways to Get a Degree Without Taking on Debt

    Although taking out student loans has become the norm in recent times, it is possible to get a degree without the burden of debt.
  3. Personal Finance

    The Increasing Costs Of College

    College tuition is getting more expensive, textbooks are increasing in price and for-profit schools are popping up.
  4. Financial Advisor

    Helping Clients Weigh College Financial Aid Offers

    Now's the time for reviewing financial aid offers, which can often be confusing. Here are a few tips to help clients make sense of them.
  5. Personal Finance

    Tips For Going To College As A Mature Student

    Learn the special considerations mature adults need to make when pursuing a post-secondary education.
  6. Personal Finance

    How Financial Aid for College Tuition Has Changed

    Financial aid for college tuition has gone high-tech and currently favors higher-income applicants.
  7. Personal Finance

    How Paying For College Begins Well Before Freshman Year

    Don't overlook the hidden real costs of paying for college, especially those early expenses that mount while your child is still in high school.
  8. Personal Finance

    5 Colleges That Are Slashing Tuition Costs

    Schools are cutting tuition fees because of the economic times. We tell you which ones are cutting prices.
  9. Personal Finance

    Avoid Borrowing a Fortune for College

    College is expensive but has many benefits. Use these tips to avoid borrowing a fortune for college.
  10. Personal Finance

    The Declining Value Of A College Degree

    The salary difference between adults with post-secondary educations and adults without post-secondary degrees isn't as drastic as it once was.
RELATED FAQS
  1. What are some examples of how I could use my IRA savings for college?

    Use your traditional IRA for qualified college expenses for you or your family. The retirement funds can be used for books, ... Read Answer >>
  2. Can I use my 401(k) to pay for my college loans?

    Find out how to use your 401(k) retirement savings to fund your college education, including the basics of hardship withdrawals ... Read Answer >>
Trading Center