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?

Expenses often considered for COA Adjustment include:

  • The cost of your rent and utilities or the cost of your university residence hall.
  • The cost of purchasing a computer; you can only request this once every three years.
  • The cost of uninsured medical, dental, or optical expenses.
  • The cost of transportation.
  • The cost of childcare expenses.
  • The cost of special books and supplies.
  • The cost of relocating expenses (entering student living off-campus only).

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/Bar prep costs
  • Consumer debt (e.g., credit card payments, etc.)
  • Interview costs

Please note that there is no COA Adjustment process for the summer term.

The Cost of Attendance Adjustment Process

  1. It is required for you to speak with a financial aid advisor prior to completing the adjustment request form. Please visit our appointment page or stop by our office to speak with a financial aid advisor.  We will go over what type of supporting documentation you need to submit for the COAAR.
  2. After you speak with a financial aid advisor regarding your Cost of Attendance Adjustment Request, complete the request form. 
  3. To ensure the fastest processing possible, please submit all necessary documentation (see supporting documentation examples) and 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