COA Quick Reference Cost of Attendance, Enrollment, and Aid Quick Reference

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Cost of Attendance

Defined: Cost of Attendance is the combination of the estimated costs a student may incur while attending a school taking into account such factors as the student’s enrollment level, program of study, time period enrolled, and location of attendance.

Purpose: A budget designates the maximum amount of aid that can be received from all potential sources including scholarships, grants, loans, and outside aid.

What Can Change COA?

What can change COA and how?: If a student changes one of the main components of the COA such as enrollment, the maximum amount of aid a student may receive is raised or lowered. This change may result in a loss or increase in aid eligibility.

COA Components

Cost of Attendance is made up of seven components;

- Tuition

- Transportation

- Fees

- Miscellaneous Personal Expenses

- Room

- Books & Supplies

- Board

Due to the fact that the budget components are weighted estimates, the amounts for the components may not reflect the actual costs of the student throughout the aid year.

What does it look like in Banner?

RBAABUD - view the breakdown of the components, budget group, and aid period for the school year.

ROARMAN - can be used as a quick view of a student’s actual budget, budget group, aid period, and offered aid.

How does Enrollment Status Change COA?

Defined: Enrollment Projection allows our LUO and Graduate students to predict the classes they will be attending throughout the school year so we can give them an accurate budget.

1. The student completes this in their financial check in, and we can see what they have filled out by checking ZFARGPJ.

2. The budget is automatically updated whenever a student changes their enrollment, usually done within about 2 business days of when the student makes the change.

3. The Loan Change Request form can affect a student’s aid if they choose to take off a semester because this will change the number of months they are enrolled and as a result can change their budget.

4. Dropping from classes can also change the number of months a student is enrolled for the year, and even if they are still in 6 credit hours for the semester this can still change their Room and Board. An example of this would be going from 2 B term classes and 1 D term class to just being in 2 B term classes for the semester.

5. Withdrawing from classes will only affect their aid, it will never affect COA. If a student begins attendance in the class, the full period of enrollment for that class is counted for the COA components

Room and Board Worksheet

This worksheet is not meant to give you the ability to calculate the student’s COA and tell them their exact amount, this should be limited to the processors that are actually working the budget.

There are many variables that go into determining a student’s budget. Even though tuition is the largest budget component, the Room and Board components still hold a lot of influence on a student’s budget. If you are trying to determine if there will be a significant change in enrollment, it’s best to look at the number of months the student is currently enrolled in and the number they will be enrolled in after they make their change. You do not need to have exact numbers to be able to determine whether or not the student’s enrollment change will greatly change their budget.


Define: Buffers help reduce the need to reduce or return financial aid awards because of change to a student’s aid or COA.

Who Gets them?: Typically, LUO is packaged with buffers because they are most likely to change their aid periods. Residential students are generally less likely to change their enrollment in a way that would significantly affect their aid. For example, online students can easily change from 5 months of enrollment to 2 months by dropping one course, but the residential student’s room and board typically stays the same since their classes are usually for the entire semester.

Buffers do not need to be discussed with students and will not be removed to increase room for more aid! Do not advise students to reduce or remove the buffer to increase their financial aid.

Making the Information Student Ready

Keep in mind these three questions when responding to student’s questions regarding this or any other topic in financial aid.

1. How can I explain this in a way that makes sense to someone who may not understand how Financial Aid works?

2. Is your explanation full of Financial Aid lingo?

3. Am I giving them the best customer service I can to make sure they completely understand what I’m trying to tell them? If necessary, you should try to find an alternative way to explain it so they understand.

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