How to Calculate the Cost of Attendance at University?

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How to Calculate the Cost of Attendance for a University-01 (1)

The Cost of Attendance is one of the most important factors of managing expenses when studying abroad. Students must be able to understand what it means, how it works and how COA is calculated. This blog gives you insight into how to calculate the cost of attendance and to help you understand all the factors related to COA, from Financial Aid to the calculation of COA. 


COA Cost of Attendance
EFC The expected family contribution is the amount of money a student’s family is expected to pay to college costs for one academic year. 
Financial Aids Scholarships, Loans, Grants
Inflation It is the rate of increase in prices over a specific period of time
Calculation of COA The total cost of Year 1 x 1.05 = 2 Year’s COA(includes inflation rate)
Tuition Fee The amount that you pay to get taught, 

What is the Cost of Attendance?

The cost of attendance is the amount a student is supposed to pay the University for one academic year. The COA is an estimation of a student’s academic expenses for the period of enrollment. It includes other expenses such as tuition fees, room, books etc. Costs related to disability and dependent care can be applied if required. Students who receive any kind of financial aid do not pay the full cost of attendance. 

Also Read: Top Accounting Course

What is included in COA?

The list below mentions the expenses included in the COA:

  1. Tuition and fees
  2. Books, supplies, transportation, miscellaneous
  3. Room and board
  4. Dependent care if applicable
  5. Study-abroad expenses
  6. Disability expenses if applicable
  7. Loan fees
  8. Meals

*Universities/Colleges make slight changes in the Cost of Attendance on a yearly basis to reflect on these costs.

How is COA used?

The Cost of Attendance is supposed to depict how much aid you may need. The University calculates your needs for Financial Aid by subtracting your EFC from the COA. 

How does the COA drive your Financial Aid?

A student is not capable of getting financial aid in excess of their COA such as loans, grants, scholarships and work-study. Financial need is used to calculate how much need-based aid you are eligible to receive. It helps students understand the minimum amount they may need to borrow. 

Also Read: Cheap Universities in Canada

What’s the Difference between the Cost of Attendance and Tuition Fees?

Students get confused between the two terms – COA and Tuition Fees. Both the terms are used when a student is applying for Financial Aid. The table below mentions the minor difference between the two:

Cost of Attendance Tuition Fee
The estimated cost of attending a University or College. It includes items such as Tuition & Fees, Room & Board (both on and off campus), Books, Transportation, and various other things The actual cost of tuition includes aspects of the chosen course, use of the campus and access to faculty.

Importance of COA

Students must be aware of the importance the Cost of Attendance carries along. The COA allows a student to understand Financial Aids, Loans and Grants. The Cost of Attendance makes a student capable of understanding his or her financial needs. A student gets to understand how much financial aid he or she is eligible to receive or borrow.

Factors that affect Financial Aid

  • Attendance Verification – University must be able to verify and document your attendance of the course from the start.
  • Basic Eligibility – You must be able to meet the basic eligibility criteria set by the University to receive federal financial aid.
  • Borrowing Limit – There are limits to the number of student loans you can receive annually and over your lifetime that is called an aggregate limit.
  • Course Drops or Withdrawals – Students must be enrolled and should be attending through the 60% point of the semester before they can take all the financial aid they have been granted.
  • Dependency Rate – Students will be asked a series of questions to determine if they will be awarded financial aid as dependent or independent students.
  • Enrollment – To be eligible for most financial aid programs, students must be enrolled at least half-time of the course. 
  • Repeated Coursework – After a class has been repeated one time, it is no longer supposed to be “paid” by financial aid.

COA Factors to keep in mind

The COA includes 5 main categories of expenses mentioned below that a student should keep in mind while figuring out how much the university or college is going to cost. 

  • Tuition and fees
  • Room and board
  • Books and supplies
  • Transportation
  • Personal Expenses

How to Calculate the Cost of Attendance?

Tuition, fees, and room and board are supposed to be paid directly to the University by either students or their financial aid, which may consist of scholarships, grants and student loans. Other expenses would be a student’s responsibility to pay for over the duration of the academic year.

The calculation for finding the cost of attendance including inflation:

The total cost of Year 1 x 1.05 = 2 Year’s COA with Inflation

The total cost of Year 2 x 1.05 = 3 Year’s COA with inflation


Expenses Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
Tuition $47,176 (INR 35,04,328) $47,176  (INR 35,04,328) $55,892  (INR 35,04,328)
Fees $2,290 (INR 1,70,105) $2,290 (INR 1,70,105) $3,435 (INR 1,70,105)
Room $8,710 (INR 6,46,996) $8,710 (INR 6,46,996) $13,005 (INR 9,66,037)
Board $4,036 (INR 2,99,802) $4,036 (INR 2,99,802) $6,054 (INR 4,49,703)
Books/ supplies $190 (INR 14,113) $190 (INR 14,113) $285 (INR 21,170)
Transportation $1,264 (INR 93,892) $1,264 (INR 93,892) $2,865 (INR 2,12,817)
Miscellaneous living expenses $3,386 (INR 251518) $3,386 (INR 251518) $5,079(INR 3,77,278)
Total $67,698 (INR 50,28,743 $67,698 (INR 50,28,743) $56,880 (INR 42,25,160)

How to prepare for paying the COA?

  • Accommodation options – If you prefer to live off then the rent is not the only expense you need to pay but also other expenses such as Utilities, food, travel costs etc. Choose the least expensive option.
  • Choose the right meal plan – Make sure you use a meal plan to lower the expenses in the COA.
  • Don’t buy new textbooks – Buy used or rented books. Try to use online sources for study material.
  • Earn money while in University – Get a part-time job. Work during your summers off or part time and use the money you earned for paying for tuition, books, or other expenses. Try to go for an employment program that is not based on financial need so that you can earn as much as $7,000 per year to make it easier for you to pay the COA.
  • Explore all of your aid options – Apply for scholarships. Students with scholarships tend to pay less COA.
  • Take assistance from Leverage Edu’s Leverage Finance to manage expenses – Leverage Finance aims to make your foreign journey more financially feasible and pocket-friendly.

Also Read: Different types of Student Accommodation

Benefits of using Leverage Finance

Here are some of the reasons why Leverage finance is preferred by study abroad aspirants.

  • Leverage Finance offers a 24*7 online process for money transfer.
  • No paperwork. Requires only Aadhaar / Driving License / Passport and PAN of the Remitter required.
  • You get the best exchange rates that can make a significant difference while transferring money abroad. For example, You save 1 Re on every pound you remit -exchange rate than banks helps you save INR 20K on remittance of 20K GBP. 
  • Leverage Finance provides you with a transparent payment structure and ZERO hidden charges.
  • It is the safest and quickest mode of international money transfer for students to make payments for their University Fees and living expenses. It would take approximately 8-10 minutes. For repeat customers, less than 5 minutes.

FAQs for How to Calculate Cost of Attendance

How do I create an account with Leverage Finance?

You can create an account with your email id only.

Do I need to open a separate bank account to use Leverage Finance?

No, you don’t need to make a separate bank account. You just need to register at Leverage Finance. You can send money internationally by using your existing bank account only.

How much change does a University make for COA?

The university makes slight changes every year to reflect on COA.

To know more about study abroad programs and the application process, our experts at Leverage Edu are always available to assist you through your queries at 1800 572 000!

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