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Understanding the Cost of Attendance: Beyond Tuition

Updated: Dec 5, 2023

The cost of attending college is a significant consideration for student-athletes and their families. While tuition fees are often the first aspect that comes to mind, it is essential to understand that the cost of attendance (COA) encompasses much more. In this article, we will delve into the various components of COA and highlight the importance of considering the overall expenses associated with pursuing higher education while competing in their sport.

Defining the Cost of Attendance:

COA, or the cost of attendance, refers to the comprehensive expenses a student-athletes incur while attending college. It encompasses more than just tuition fees and includes additional factors such as fees, textbooks, supplies, room and board, and living expenses. By accounting for all these components, students can gain a clearer picture of the financial commitments associated with their education.

Beyond Tuition:

Although tuition fees make up a substantial portion of the cost of attendance, it is crucial not to overlook the other expenses involved. Let’s explore some of these often neglected aspects:


Institutions may charge various fees, such as registration fees, laboratory fees, technology fees, and others. These costs can accumulate and should be considered when calculating the overall cost of attendance.

Textbooks and Supplies:

Course materials, including textbooks, online resources, and supplies, can quickly accumulate expenses. Student-athletes should factor in these costs to ensure they have the necessary resources for their studies.

University-Specific Expenses:

Some universities may require student-athletes to purchase specific equipment or devices like laptops. These institution-specific expenses should be accounted for to avoid unexpected financial burdens.

Living Expenses:

Room and board expenses are significant contributors to the overall cost of attendance. Whether a student-athlete chooses to live on-campus or off-campus, they should consider rental fees, utility bills, groceries, and transportation costs.

Hidden Costs:

Apart from the obvious expenses, there are often hidden costs associated with attending college. These can include charges for extracurricular activities, health insurance, parking permits and even late payment fees. It’s essential for student-athletes to be aware of these potential expenses and factor them into their overall cost of attendance calculations.

Understanding Year-to-Year Variations:

It’s important to note that the cost of attendance can vary from year to year. While tuition fees for state schools are often governed by the state’s budget, private institutions have more flexibility in adjusting their fees annually. Similarly, room and board costs may change depending on factors such as inflation, campus renovations, or changes in the housing market. Student-athletes should research and stay updated on these fluctuations to accurately plan their finances.

Understanding the cost of attendance beyond tuition is crucial for student-athletes and their families, even if they have full or partial scholarships. While scholarships cover tuition expenses, it’s important to consider other elements of COA. By comprehensively evaluating these costs, student-athletes can make informed financial decisions and effectively manage their finances. Developing a comprehensive budget is essential, regardless of scholarship coverage. It helps student-athletes track their expenses and plan accordingly. In conclusion, while full or partial scholarships may cover tuition, student-athletes should be mindful of the cost of attendance beyond tuition. By understanding the comprehensive expenses, developing budgets, enhancing financial literacy, and considering long-term financial planning and alternative education paths, student-athletes can make the most of their scholarships and set themselves up for financial success in the future.

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