Revised estimates on student expenses and Cost of Attendance (COA) from the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) have updated previous student expense budget numbers with recent survey responses from students, and taken into consideration how student costs vary by region.
COA is an estimate of a student’s educational expenses for the period of enrollment used to calculate how much financial aid a student is eligible for. It takes into consideration costs such as room and board, transportation, books and supplies, tuition and fees, personal expenses, and more and is determined through compliance, data resources, and the Student Expenses and Resources Survey (SEARS).
An accurate understanding of students’ COA is crucial to ensure maximum distribution of financial aid and maximize college revenue. Analyzing costs by region addressed a concern of many districts in high cost areas that their students have not been able to qualify for the California College Promise Grant (CCPG) because the metrics did not account for regional cost differences. Maximizing the number of students that qualify for the CCPG could have implications for institutional funding through the supplemental allocation in the Student Centered Funding Formula (SCFF).
With a recent examination of the COA for all California Community Colleges showing that many colleges are still using costs below SEARS levels, campuses are highly encouraged to update estimates through a thorough examination of student expenses. Resources to do so include the Cost of Living Index, Self-Sufficiency Standard, Family Needs Calculator, and the TCAC/HCD Opportunity Map.