How Alabama Arrived At COA Figures

As reported in the second part of this series on the effect of Cost of Attendance being added to the value of an athletics scholarship, we look at how Alabama arrived at its figures.

To recap, Alabama has recalculated its additional Cost of Attendance figure to one in the lower half of the Southeastern Conference to one of the highest for the 2015-16 academic year.

At The Capstone, the COA is calculated at an additional $4,172 for in-state students and $5,386 for out-of-state students.

Tennessee’s figure is the highest in the SEC, $5,666 for both in-state and out-of-state students. Oddly, nine of the 14 schools report the same COA figure for in-state and out-of-state students, even though travel is a component of the figure. Auburn has the second highest projected COA in the SEC at $5,586. Mississippi State comes in at $5,154.

The high COA figures at rural schools Auburn and Mississippi State, initially had many raising eyebrows, but the figures are determined by Federal guidelines.

Other SEC schools and their COA calculations are:

Ole Miss $4,600, Arkansas $4,104, South Carolina $4,201, Missouri $3,742, LSU $3,336, Kentucky $3,330 ($3,598 out-of-state), Georgia $3,222 ($3,746 out-of-state), Florida $4,320, and Texas A&M $3,064 ($3,592 out-of-state).

Vanderbilt has the lowest COA addition at $2,780 for both in-state and out-of-state, but the calculation does not include travel.

All figures were supplied by school media relations department or school financial aid website. University of Alabama information provided below by Deborah M. Lane, Assistant to the President and Associate Vice President for University Relations:

UA’s Student Financial Aid office calculates and posts cost of attendance (COA) estimates each year, as required by the Department of Education. (previous years’ cost of attendance numbers are available on the Student Financial Aid website)

Cost of attendance calculations apply to all students at an institution, and are used to determine how much financial aid can be awarded to a student. It also determines how much money a student can borrow toward the cost of attending that university. Higher cost of attendance estimates can lead to increased student debt.

COA includes tuition and fees; room and board; allowances for books and supplies; transportation; loan fees; and miscellaneous/personal expenses. Cost of attendance goes up when expenses associated with these components go up: for example, when tuition and fees are increased, when room or board is increased, or when costs for personal expenses such as laundry, groceries, gas, etc., increase.

UA uses the same methods to determine COA that we have always used. Rising costs that impact indirect costs are factored into the annual COA calculation. Indirect costs are those costs that students have more control over, such as how much they spend on books and personal expenses. Direct costs – tuition and fees and room and board – are billed directly to the student’s account.

Here are the formulas The University of Alabama uses to calculate transportation and miscellaneous:

Transportation: For in-state students, costs are calculated based on the assumption that most students live within 5 miles of campus: 50 miles per week x 34 weeks (an academic year) x 57 cents per mile and an average of 2 round trips home per semester. For out-of-state students, transportation is based on a weighted average of mileage based on an 8-hour travel radius and an average of 2 round trips home per semester.

Miscellaneous: Based on the US Census Bureau’s average consumer expenditures. It’s the same number for in-state and out-of-state students: $2,366.

For the 2015-2016 academic year, UA’s cost of attendance was impacted by the increase in tuition (3.5 percent for in-state and 4 percent for out-of-state) and by a 5 percent increase in residence hall costs, as well as increases in the average consumer expenditure numbers and the cost of travel.

This year, the SEC changed the rule that defines the way universities award financial aid to student-athletes. The rule now says that SEC universities will pay the full cost of attendance for their student-athletes. Before that rule change, student-athletes received scholarships that covered tuition and fees, and room and board. If eligible, student-athletes also received Pell Grants.

The method for awarding partial scholarships will not change.

The concerns expressed about the impact that transportation and miscellaneous costs will have on recruiting are primarily focused on the issues of transparency and consistency.

The Athletic Department’s budget will, as always, include scholarship costs, including the increased awards resulting from full cost of attendance.

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