Enter the tuition cost, cost of room and board, cost of books and supplies, and other fees to calculate the cost of attendance.

Cost of Attendance Formula

The following formula is used to calculate the cost of attendance.

COA = T + RB + BS + M
  • Where COA is the yearly cost of attendance of college
  • T is the tuition cost per year
  • RB is the cost of room and board per year
  • BS is the books and supplies cost per year
  • M is miscellaneous costs like computers etc.

Cost of Attendance Definition

Cost of Attendance (COA) is a comprehensive estimate of the expenses of attending a college or university for an academic year. It encompasses various components that students may incur during their studies. COA is crucial as it provides students and their families with a realistic understanding of the costs of pursuing higher education.

Firstly, tuition and fees form a significant part of COA. This refers to the amount charged by the institution for enrollment and instruction. While tuition varies depending on the type of institution and program, it is an essential factor in determining the overall cost.

Secondly, room and board expenses are included in COA. This covers the cost of housing and meals, whether the student chooses to live on-campus or off-campus.

These expenses can significantly impact the overall budget, particularly for students who need to relocate for their studies.

Books and supplies are another component of COA. This includes the cost of textbooks, stationery, and other materials required for coursework. These expenses can vary depending on the program and the courses taken, and they contribute to the total cost of attending college.

Transportation costs can also be considered in COA. This includes the expenses associated with commuting to and from campus, as well as any additional travel required for internships, fieldwork, or other educational activities.

Cost of Attendance Example

How to calculate a cost of attendance?

  1. First, determine the tuition per year.

    Calculate the average tuition per year.

  2. Next, determine the cost of room and board per year.

    This averages from $8,000-$12,000 for most universities.

  3. Next, determine the cost of books and suppliers.

    The US average for this figure is $1,300.00.

  4. Next, determine any additional costs.

    This includes costs of computers and other fees directly associated with attending college.

  5. Finally, calculate the COA.

    Calculate the cost of attendance using the equation above.


What is the average cost of attendance?

The average student will pay roughly $25,000.00 per year to attend university.

cost of attendance calculator
cost of attendance formula