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Financing Law School

Cost of Attendance vs.
What You Will Owe DU

University of Denver Financial Aid

The first email in our series explains a section you will see on your financial aid award letter: cost of attendance. That phrase can be a little misleading, however, as it's not the amount of money you will owe DU.

What exactly is the "cost of attendance?"
The cost of attendance (COA)—sometimes referred to as a "student budget"—is an estimate of what it costs a typical student in a specified program to attend DU for one academic year. Don't be startled by the COA you see on your award letter from the University of Denver. Your cost of attendance doesn't only include tuition; it also takes into account basic living expenses.

Why is this listed on my financial aid award letter?
Every student who submits a FAFSA is assigned a cost of attendance. This COA serves two purposes:

  1. to give you an estimate of the cost to attend DU for one year, and
  2. to set a limit on the amount of financial aid you can receive during the academic year (which federal regulations require us to do).

This means your actual expenses may be different from what's listed on your award letter, and the total amount of your aid—including scholarships and loans—can't exceed your cost of attendance.

What's included in my COA?
Your cost of attendance is made up of two different types of costs: direct and indirect.

  • Direct costs are items that will appear on your University bill, such as tuition and fees.
  • Indirect costs will not appear on your bill, but are estimated costs associated with attending DU and should be included in your budget. These include items like books, transportation and personal expenses.

Here's an example...
A typical, full-time DU law student will see the following cost of attendance on their award letter for the 2017-18 school year:

Direct Costs: Tuition $48,690
  Fees 332
  Health Insurance 2,926
  Subtotal $51,948
Indirect Costs: Books 1,200
  Room & Board 14,364
  Transportation Expenses 1,535
  Personal Expenses 1,359
  Loan Fees 225
  Cost of Attendance  $70,631

Let's look at each line-item in more detail:

  • Tuition and Fees: These figures reflect the cost of tuition and fees for a student taking 15 credits during both the fall and spring semesters of the 2017-18 academic year.
  • Health Insurance: This is a direct cost (and you will therefore be charged for it) unless you waive the insurance offered through DU. This figure is an estimate—actual rates will be announced by the Health & Counseling Center.
  • Books: This is an estimate of the cost of books and supplies for a typical student for the entire academic year. You will not be billed directly by DU for books or supplies.
  • Room and Board: Again, this is an estimate of the cost of housing and meals for the academic year.
  • Transportation: This is an estimate of the cost of traveling to and from campus, and the cost of operating and maintaining a vehicle. Unless you buy a DU parking permit, you will not be billed directly for transportation costs.
  • Personal Expenses: This is an estimate of costs for clothing, entertainment, etc. for the year. Money actually spent on these types of items will vary from student to student. These items will not appear on your DU bill.
  • Average Loan Fees: There is an origination fee of 1.069% for Federal Direct Unsubsidized student loans, which is taken out of the loan before funds are sent to DU. The $225 listed above is the average fee for students who borrow these loans. Actual fees will depend on the amount you borrow.

Where do these figures come from?
Direct costs are determined by the University of Denver. For indirect costs, we use the recommended guidelines published by the Colorado Department of Higher Education. All figures change slightly every year.

What You Will Owe DU
So what will your bill actually look like each semester? It depends on how many credits you take and the amount of scholarship funds you're expecting to receive. We recommend that you use our estimated billing worksheet to calculate your projected balance due (note: this worksheet works best when opened in Internet Explorer). Knowing your balance will help you determine just how much you may have to borrow to cover your bill. 

In summary, the cost of attendance listed on your award letter is both an estimate of the cost to attend DU, and represents the maximum amount of aid (including loans) you can receive during the 2017-18 academic year. But it's not what you will owe—utilize the estimated billing worksheet to determine that and the amount of loans you may have to borrow.

That's it for this week! Up next week: Types (and Terms) of Loans Available for Law Students 

Want to review past or future emails? Check out the archives!

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