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Sinclair College

Cost of Attendance (COA) Policy

Financial Aid Cost of Attendance Policy

Policy Overview

Cost of attendance (COA), also known as Budget, is defined as costs the student is expected to incur during a period of enrollment. Actual or average costs may be used depending on the components that make up COA, and they must be consistently applied.

For most students, basic COA components include the following (with some exceptions):

  • Tuition
  • Auxiliary Fees
  • Living Expenses (food and housing)
  • Books & Supplies
  • Personal Computer
  • Transportation
  • Personal Expenses
  • Federal Student Loan Fees

 Additional COA allowances are available to qualified students who incur or are expected to incur expenses for the following:

  • Federal Parent Loan Fees
  • Professional Licensure or Certification Fee
  • Study Abroad Allowance
  • Dependent Care Allowance
  • Disability Allowance
  • Cooperative Education Allowance

Eligibility for Aid

COA is used along with a student's EFC (expected family contribution) to determine financial need which affects how much aid, as well as what type of aid, a student may receive.

Initial COA

COA is initially generated based on full time (12+ credit hours) enrollment, fall and spring terms, housing indicated on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and residency as determined by Registration & Student Records.

Recalculated COA

COA is recalculated based on actual enrollment after the student's census date for the term.  In the recalculation process, actual Title IV eligible hours are used instead of full time and terms of attendance may also be adjusted.  If a student's residency is changed mid award year, it may also cause a change in COA.  Summer term is added to the COA manually just before summer registration begins.

If a change occurs to the COA, it may cause an over-award of federal financial aid.  If this occurs, federal financial aid may have to be adjusted to resolve the over-award.  Adjustments will occur to federal student loans first unless they have already been disbursed and refunded.  If adjusting loans does not resolve the over-award, adjustments will need to be made to campus-based funds, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG) and Federal Work Study (FWS), until the over-award is resolved.


The COA for incarcerated students can only include Tuition, Fees, and Professional Licensure components.

The COA for students attending less than 6 hours can include all of the Basic Components except Living Expenses, Personal Expenses, and Loan Fees.

COA will be adjusted to exclude the housing component for Active Military as determined by the Military Family Education Center (MFEC) and/or FAFSA.  Since military personnel already receive assistance through the Department of Defense, additional assistance for housing is not allowed.

Basic COA Components

v  Tuition & Fees - An amount normally assessed a student carrying the same academic workload.  Calculation is done using actual Title IV credit hours and the per credit hour rate based on student's residency. 

v  Books, Course Materials, Supplies & Equipment - An estimate of student's costs for required textbooks, rental or purchased equipment, course materials, and/or required supplies as determined by Sinclair. 

  • Personal Computer - An additional part of Books, Materials, Supplies & Equipment component includes an allowance for a personal computer. This amount is an average cost for purchasing a laptop sold for educational purposes in the Sinclair campus bookstore. 

v  Living Expenses - A reasonable allowance for food and housing (formerly known as Room and Board) costs, as determined by Sinclair, to be incurred by the student attending the institution on at least a half-time basis. The Food component is the equivalent of three meals per day. The Housing component is based on reasonable expenses for the student, including rent, internet, and utilities.  Housing component is also based on dependency status as determined by the FAFSA. 

v  Transportation - An estimate of student's cost to effectively travel to and from school, between campus locations, residence, and the student's place of work as determined by Sinclair. 

v  Personal Expenses - An estimate of miscellaneous, personal expenses including clothing, laundry, entertainment, personal hygiene, recreation, and personal technology, such as cell phone, that may be incurred by the student while attending Sinclair. 

v  Federal Direct Student Loan Fee - An allowance for the cost of any Federal student loan fee, origination fee, or insurance premium charged to the student. Sinclair uses an average annual loan debt for all students to calculate this fee.

Additional COA Components 

v  Federal Direct Parent Loan Fee - If a parent chooses to borrow a federal PLUS loan, an allowance for the cost of any Federal parent loan fee, origination, or insurance premium charged to the parent of the student will be added to the student's COA. Sinclair uses an average annual loan debt for all parents to calculate this fee. 

v  Professional Licensure or Certification - An amount for the costs associated with obtaining a license, certification, or professional credential for a student in a program that prepares them to enter a profession that requires such a qualification are added to eligible student's COA by the Financial Aid Office. The credential cost must be incurred while the student is still enrolled even if the credentialing activity occurs after the student's enrollment period ends. 

v  Study Abroad Allowance - For a student enrolled in a study abroad program approved for credit by Sinclair, the COA can include reasonable costs associated with such study, as determined by the institution providing the study abroad experience. An example of such a cost may include an allowance for travel to and from the study abroad location. 

v  Dependent Care Allowance - An allowance can be added to the student's COA to cover expenses associated with dependent care for dependents listed in the student's household on the FAFSA.  A "dependent" may include persons other than children, such as elderly parents. This allowance cannot exceed the reasonable cost in the community in which student resides for the kind of care provided. The period of time for which dependent care is required includes, but is not limited to, class-time, study-time, field work, internships, and commuting time. 

v  Disability-Related Allowance - For a student with a disability, the COA can include an allowance determined by the school for those expenses related to the student's disability. This may include but are not limited to special services, personal assistance, transportation, equipment, and supplies that are reasonably incurred and not provided by other assisting agencies. Disability related expenses paid by another organization may not be included in the COA. 

v  Cooperative Education Allowance - For a student placed in a work experience under a cooperative education program, the COA can include an allowance as determined by Sinclair for reasonable costs associated with such employment. A cooperative education program is a credit-bearing academic program that combines professional work experience in a student's field of study with academic research and coursework. Examples of costs associated with cooperative education may include but are not limited to an allowance for additional travel to and from work and work clothes or uniforms.

COA Adjustments

Students can request an evaluation for unique circumstances concerning any of the Basic COA Components.  They can also request any of the Additional COA Component allowances be added to their COA if they meet the requirements for the allowance.  To have their COA evaluated and potentially adjusted, the student must complete the Special Circumstances - COA Appeal form found on the FA Online Forms website.  Supporting documentation will be required when submitting the form.  For additional information about this process, contact the Welcome Center.

  • Last Revised: 08/02/2023