The Cost of Attendance - What’s It Mean to WNY Students & Parents?
Welcome back to the blog! We provide useful tips and information here on the blog for students and families of WNY who will be attending college in the future. We help provide assistance with FAFSA, tutoring and test prep, and many other things here at Send Your Kids to College, but right now it’s SCHOLARSHIP SEASON! From now through June 30th, we will be accepting applications for the Young Achiever’s Scholarship, an annual award provided to 3 WNY students each year. You can apply here! For today’s blog, we felt it might be helpful to go over what “the cost of attendance” really means, and how it all breaks down.
Let’s dive deeper into what the “Cost of Attendance” means when planning for college.
What does “Cost of Attendance” mean?
Essentially, it’s just the “sticker price” or the maximum amount of money college costs to attend for one year.
What Does “Cost of Attendance” Include?
School costs more than just the costs of room and board. There are direct costs and indirect costs associated.
These are paid directly to the college and are the traditional college costs
Tuition- this is the amount a student owes to attend college for classes and instruction. Some colleges may charge per credit hour, or charge a set tuition rate.
Fees- depending on your college and program, these fees will vary. These are additional charges to cover the costs of certain services, like lab fees.
Housing- this is the amount you pay to live on campus. Depending on the options, and campus housing style, this cost will vary depending on your amenities. Make sure to review the different housing options (and costs!) at the schools you’re looking at
Meal Plans- this is how much you plan to pay for on-campus dining. These costs will also vary depending on what school you go to, and how much time you plan to spend on campus. Colleges have varying levels of meal plans, meal credits, and other options including per food item. Check with your college to see what meal plans are available, and what the cost of your desired meal plan will do to your cost of attendance.
Health Insurance- depending on the college, this cost may be required. If it is required, you’ll be automatically billed, and can cost thousands of dollars. If you have a comparable health insurance plan you can submit proof of your insurance plan to have it removed from your bill. Be sure to ask.
These costs are still related to your education, but not paid directly to the college. You have to consider things like books, transportation, technology, (off-campus) food, dorm furnishings, and any other expenses that will be necessary during your time in college. Thinking about things like how far you may need to commute, what type of computer you may need, and what alarm clock you’re going to need are all costs that should be factored into the college planning process. These are all things that will be spent ON college, but not TO THE COLLEGE.
Why is the Cost of Attendance Important?
Before financial aid is applied, this is the maximum amount of money you would pay for one year of college. Having this cost in mind ahead of time can certainly help you put your financial aid situation in order before making big decisions. Many people assume that the sticker price or cost of attendance is the figure that students will pay in full. This is oftentimes not the case. The cost after financial aid has been applied is the true amount that you and your family will have to pay out of pocket to attend college.
Before we go any further it’s important to note that this is why we decided to create Send Your Kids to College. There just aren’t enough resources in schools to go around, and students (and their parents) are simply not well-versed in the college planning process. We often see that when a parent doesn’t help a student through the murky waters of college planning, mistakes can be made, and resentment over bills can be held. It’s important both as parents, and as future college students, to be educated and aware when making huge financial decisions associated with college. See More: The College Money Talk Trust that you have a team of experts right in your backyard to help you formulate the best path forward for your family. If you have any questions about financial aid or planning for college, please don’t hesitate to reach out by phone or contact form to speak with a certified college planning specialist today!