A NASFAA working group tasked with examining cost of attendance (COA) is recommending more standardization across institutions when crafting COA components and policies.
The working group “agreed that financial aid administrators who come up with cost of attendance aren’t doing it in a vacuum,” NASFAA Policy Analyst Jill Desjean told attendees during Tuesday morning’s session on the working group’s report. “It can be difficult for a financial aid administrator to make cost of attendance decisions when there are all these other people who want a say in it.”
The working group looked at variation in COA components across institutions, as well as different methodologies and perceptions about the need for standardizing costs. Their recommendations were broken into two categories: those that dealt with general recommendations about COA and those that relate to specific COA components that need to be examined, such as room and board, books, and fees.
“I think COA is a timely conversation and something we will see more of as we move along,” said Diane Sprague of the University of Texas at Austin, who served on the working group. “We all know that we have just tons and tons of pressures that are out there” when it comes to determining COA, Sprague said.
Generally, the working group recommends that COA not be used as a vehicle to achieve institutional goals and that institutions establish the good practice of separating COA components that are combined in practice and in statute. The group also recommended that institutions clearly indicate what expenses are included in each COA component, that financial aid administrators rely on at least two sources to develop a COA component, and including within an institutions COA construction policy how COA estimates are determined and how frequently the components are updated.
Stay tuned to Today’s News for more on the working group’s report, including their recommendations for specific COA components.
Publication Date: 6/27/2017