There are many factors to consider while you are deciding which college to attend. One of those factors is Cost of Attendance (COA). The COA helps your college determine your financial need and is divided into several categories:
Each college will have a different cost of attendance. As an example, let’s assume that you’re choosing between in-state and out-of-state colleges. The difference between resident and non-resident tuition could be thousands of dollars, but expenses such as rent and transportation may also increase or decrease depending on where you attend. This will drastically affect your COA.
Now that you have a basic understanding of COA, you can examine its role in determining your financial aid award. A lower Expected Family Contribution (EFC) may mean higher financial need. Additionally, a higher COA can increase your financial need. Usually those with greater financial need will qualify for more types of federal financial aid, including need-based aid like grants, work-study, and subsidized loans.
What does this all mean for you? Earlier we stated that selecting a college is difficult, and it can be but, there are a lot of tools available to you while you are deciding which institution fits you best. We have a couple of tips to help out. First, always fill out financial aid at FAFSA (do not pay any website to fill it out for you). Plan on doing this with your parents, as it will likely require information from their taxes to help determine their EFC and will help determine your financial need.