Student Handbook

Cost of Attendance

The United States Department of Education directs schools to determine costs associated with attendance to determine the amount of financial aid for which a student may be eligible. The Cost of Attendance (COA) estimates a student’s educational expenses for a period of academic enrollment. The Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA), defines the COA components for all federal student aid (FSA) programs in section 472.

The COA is established each award year for the academic year. COA components include allowances for estimated costs for tuition/fees, books/course materials/supplies/equipment, transportation, living expenses, personal expenses and licensure/professional certification, if applicable. These are basic COA components for all students; other cost categories may be included in a student’s COA, based on individual circumstances.

Professional Judgment( PJ)

The Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, Section 479A provides that aid administrations may use Professional Judgement on a case-by-case basis for special or unusual circumstances.

  • Special Circumstances refer to the financial situations (loss of a job, etc.) that justify an aid administrator adjusting data elements in the Cost of Attendance (COA) or in the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) calculation.
  • Unusual Circumstances refer to the conditions that justify an aid administrator making an adjustment to a student’s dependency status based on a unique situation (e.g., human trafficking, refugee or asylee status, parental abandonment, incarceration), more commonly referred to as a dependency override.

A student may have both a special circumstance and an unusual circumstance. The Financial Aid Office considers all such requests and communicates options to all students by publicly disclosing the opportunity to request adjustments based on special or unusual circumstances to all students on the institution’s financial aid webpage.