Cost of Living

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Constructing
Cost of Attendance (COA) Budgets
A Roundtable Discussion
Catherine Demchak,
Carnegie Mellon University – Heinz College
Judy Schneider,
Financial Aid Services
Talking points…
What is a Cost of Attendance (COA) Budget?
What should be included?
Where do I start?
How many different COAs are needed?
How often do I need to update the COA?
What is a Cost of Attendance (COA)
Budget?
The cost of attendance (COA) is the foundation for establishing
a student’s financial need. It sets a limit on the total aid that a
student may receive for purposes of…
Pell Grant Calculations
TEACH Grant
Campus-Based Programs
Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans
Direct PLUS/Graduate PLUS Loans
The costs that you establish for your students will be used to
calculate their Federal Student Aid award amounts and
package their aid.
What should be included?
The COA should include…
Direct Costs, (costs paid to the university):
Tuition
Fees
Health Insurance
Indirect Costs, (costs associated with attending school):
Books and Supplies (laptops, cameras, notebooks, software, etc…)
Room and Board
Transportation
Personal Expenses
Loan fees
(Some colleges differentiate costs for state residents vs. nonresidents.)
What should be included?
On a case-by-case basis you may want to adjust the COA for
expense such as,
Dependent Care (child, spouse and/or elder care)
Study Abroad Expenses
Disability Expenses
Other Education-Related Expenses
Always be sure to collect documentation for any additional expense added to your
established COA.
Where do I start?
Review COAs of schools in your area
Contact their financial aid office to inquire about
their methods for determining living expenses
Use cost of living estimators
CollegeBoard living expense costs by region
Talk to your program directors
Estimates of books and supplies
Survey your students
Housing and miscellaneous costs
Where do I start?
College Board
http://professionals.collegeboard.com/highered/financial-aid/living-expense
Where do I start?
College Board
http://professionals.collegeboard.com/higher-ed/financialaid/living-expense
The base budgets for 2014-15 are:
Moderate (Prevailing) Budgets
12 Month
$23,010
9 Month
$17,260
Low Budgets
12 Month
$15,420
9 Month
$11,560
The approximate breakdown of the
living expense component is as follows:
Housing: 55%
Transportation: 17%
Miscellaneous: 28%
The housing allowance breaks down
between housing (including utilities) and
food at approximately 75 percent and 25
percent.
Where do I start?
College Board
http://professional
s.collegeboard.co
m/highered/financialaid/living-expense
Nine-Month
Academic Year
2014-15
Moderate 9Month
Budget
Low 9Month
Budget
$ 17,260
$ 11,560
Boston–Cambridge–Quincy,
MA–NH
18,296
12,254
New York–Northern New
Jersey–Long Island, NY–NJ–PA
18,986
12,716
Philadelphia–Camden–
Wilmington, PA–NJ–DE–MD
18,296
12,254
Pittsburgh, PA
17,260
11,560
United States
Northeast:
Where do I start?
Cost of Living Calculator
http://www.bestplaces.net/col/
Comparison: Cost of Living
Wilkes-Barre, PA to Philadelphia, PA
COSTOFLIVING
Wilkes-Barre
Philadelphia
United States
Overall
80
96
100
Grocery
104.2
115.9
100
Health
97
103
100
Housing
30
61
100
Utilities
111
127
100
Transportation
102
106
100
Miscellaneous
104
116
100
Where do I start?
Cost of Living Comparison Highlights
Philadelphia is 18.6% more expensive than Wilkes-Barre
Philadelphia, housing costs are 67.0% more than Wilkes-Barre,
housing costs.
Health related expenses are 6.0% more in Philadelphia.
Philadelphia, PA
Component
Low Budget
Housing (55%)
Transportation
(17%)
Miscellaneous
(28%)
Total Living
Budget (100%)
Wilkes-Barre PA (16.6% Less)
Moderate
Budget
Low Budget
Moderate Budget
$
6,740
$
10,063
$
5,621
$
8,392
$
2,083
$
3,110
$
1,737
$
2,594
$
3,431
$
5,123
$
2,862
$
4,273
$
12,254
$
18,296
$
10,220
$
15,259
How many different COAs are needed?
Student expenses will vary from student to student and actual
costs may differ based on the program of study.
Undergraduate
Graduate
On-Campus vs. Off-Campus Housing
In-State vs. Out-of-State
Program Specific
Term Specific
Enrollment Specific (Full-time vs. Part-time)
Distance Programs
How many different COAs are needed?
Cost of Attendance for a Distance Education Student
The law prohibits you from making a distinction based on the mode of
instruction when determining the cost of attendance for a student receiving
all or part of the student’s instruction through distance education.
However, you have the authority to use professional judgment to adjust the
cost of attendance on a case-by-case basis to allow for special
circumstances. For example, you may exclude transportation costs if you
determine that such costs will not be incurred by a student. Such
adjustments must be documented in the student’s file. (See “Professional
Judgment” in the Application and Verification Guide.)*
*Taken from the 2014-2015 Student Aid Handbook, Volume 3 — Calculating Awards
& Packaging, Chapter 2.
How often do I need to update the
COA?
You should review and adjust the cost of
attendance each year to reflect changes in the
cost of living and changes in tuition and fees.
Questions?
Contacts
Catherine Demchak
[email protected]
Judy Schneider
[email protected]
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