Cost of Attendance Adjustments

Cost of Attendance (a.k.a Student Budget) Definition:

The Cost of Attendance (COA) is also known as the student “budget,” and is determined by the main campus Berkeley Financial Aid  & Scholarships office. The estimated COA includes tuition, fees, and other living expenses and is used in calculating financial aid packages. Students can view the estimated COA under the “My Finances” tab in CalCentral. An overaward may exist when a student’s total financial aid awards exceed the cost of attendance. In some but not all cases, financial aid will be reduced to resolve the overaward.


What if the Cost of Attendance doesn’t reflect a student’s actual costs?

Students can consider applying for a COA Adjustment (a.k.a an increase to their COA). A Cost of Attendance Adjustment Request (COAAR) is a process that allows students to ask for adjustments in the amount of financial aid they might be offered by increasing the individual estimated COA. For example, if a student is paying rent and utilities higher than the average posted on the standard COA, a COAAR may be appropriate. Increases to the Cost of Attendance, if approved, will typically only result in additional loan eligibility. 


What costs are allowable?

Click here for Allowable Costs 

Note: There are maximum amounts allowed for each expense. Establishing maximums ensures students understand that the Cost of Attendance is finite and prevents overborrowing. Maximums can be found below:

Budget Item 2022-23 Maximum Budget
Off-Campus Rent/Mortgage

$1,761/mo for Undergraduate Students

$2,457/mo for Graduate students and students with dependents

On-Campus Apartment/Residence Hall Fee Actual costs according to the contract/lease agreement.
Transportation Maximum add-on is budget item plus $1,500 for Undergraduate students or $3,240 for Graduate students.
Computer Purchase $3,000
Necessary Medical/Dental Expenses $5,000 per Academic Year
Childcare Expenses Up to $2,267 a month
Special books and Supplies above what is allowed in the standard budget Actual Cost
Relocating Expenses (first year students, off-campus only) Up to $3,000
Research, fieldwork, or thesis expenses Up to $5,000

Federal regulations prohibit the Financial Aid Office from providing Title IV funds to students for covering the following expenses, therefore these expenses cannot be included in the COA. 

  • Automobile payments, repairs, and insurance
  • Bar review courses
  • Consumer debt (e.g., credit card payments, etc.)
  • Interview costs

The Process

  1. Complete the screening form here.
  2. At the end of the screening form, you will be provided instructions as well as access to the online COAAR application.
  3. Once you submit the online COAAR application (along with its supporting documents). To ensure the fastest processing possible, please e-mail once you have submitted the COAAR application.


Review time frame:

The review process can take up to 5-7 business days. If additional documentation is required or there is conflicting/unclear information that must be addressed, the review process may take longer. Please ensure your statements clearly explain the documentation you are submitting and that your screenshots are pasted on a word/pdf document.



See Forms page