What is a cost of attendance (COA)?

The cost of attendance (COA) is the cornerstone of establishing a student’s financial need, as it sets a limit on the total aid that a student may receive.  The COA is not the bill that you get; it is the total amount it will cost you to go to college each year.  It includes direct and indirect expenses and is based on the length of the period of enrollment.  If you’re attending at least half-time, your COA is the estimate of
  • tuition and fees;
  • the cost of room and board (or a housing and food allowance for off-campus students);
  • the cost of books, supplies, transportation, loan fees, and miscellaneous expenses;

For students attending less than half-time, the COA includes tuition and fees and an allowance for books.

This comprehensive cost figure is used when processing financial aid applications and educational loans to ensure that a realistic and reasonable allowance is made for all expenses.

During a given period of enrollment (usually a two-trimester academic year), a student is not allowed to receive a total amount of student aid (including scholarships, grants, federal student loans, private student loans, and Federal Work-Study) that exceeds that student’s Cost of Attendance.

We strongly urge students to limit their borrowing to the amount of the standard Cost of Attendance or ideally even less, but in some cases, a student may incur allowable education expenses that are either greater than the amounts included in the standard budget or else not included at all.In these cases and at SFS’s discretion,  students may request an adjustment based on their documented actual expenses.  Please visit COA Increase Request Form for additional information.