Paying for College

Total Cost of Attendance Factored into FinAid Award?

Question: Is the indirect cost of attendance (room/board/transportation, etc.) supposed to be a stipend to the student?

“The Dean” can’t tell exactly what you’re asking. But what I think that you MAY want to know is whether or not the full cost of attendance (room, board, and even books, travel, etc.) is factored into financial aid awards.

And if that’s your question, then the answer is YES. Financial aid officials consider not only tuition but also the TOTAL price of a year of college (except maybe poker and pizza money 😉 ) when computing how much financial aid a student should receive.


BUT (and it’s a BIG one), colleges don’t necessarily meet full need. That is, the financial aid folks may say something like, “We see she needs $30,000 in aid to enroll, but we can only afford $20,000.” Similarly, some colleges may “give” you all the money that you are supposed to receive, but part of your financial aid “package” comes in the form of loans, which must be paid back. So it doesn’t really feel as if you’re getting all the aid required since you’ll be in debt and must repay it later on.

If you believe that the college you attend has not fairly assessed expenses such as food and books when calculating your financial aid award, you can certainly appeal to aid officers to increase your financial assistance. However, what you expect to receive in a perfect world may not be what you end up with in this one.

Hint: When appealing a financial aid award, always act appreciative for whatever you’ve been offered so far rather than entitled to more (but ask for more anyway).

Good luck!