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Cost of Attendance

The cost of attendance is a guideline for students to maintain a manageable amount of student loan debt. The Federal Government requires schools to create a standard budget for students who receive financial aid. The budget is used to determine financial aid eligibility each year. It includes a cost of living allowance which provides for a conservative, reasonable, standard of living. This allowance includes room/board, utilities, food, transportation and personal/miscellaneous expenses. In addition, it includes tuition, fees, books and supplies for school. By staying within (or under) your COA, you will be able to keep your debt as low as possible. 

Expenditures are within the student’s control. Prior debts, such as credit cards and car payments cannot be included into the budget allotment per federal regulations.

Since the majority of Graduate/Professional students’ financing is primarily funded through student loans, students would benefit from staying within their budget.

Estimated Budgets

College of Dental Medicine

College of Graduate Studies

College of Health Professions

College of Medicine

College of Nursing

College of Pharmacy

Over Awards and Cost of Attendance

Federal guidelines mandate that the amount of awarded financial aid may not exceed the total cost of attendance. When the amount of financial aid received from all sources is greater than the total cost of attendance, a financial aid over award occurs. Circumstances that may result in an over award include:

  • Additional financial aid from an outside source (scholarships, stipends, grants, etc.) awarded after initial financial aid awards disburse
  • A change in residency from out-of-state to in-state
  • Enrollment status change from full-time to less than full-time

Please be aware that our office is required to review your financial aid eligibility in the event of an over award and may be required to adjust financial aid awarded to ensure the total aid package remains within federal guidelines. To help prevent an over award, we strongly recommend notifying the Office of Student Financial Aid Services in writing or via of any potential awards not already listed on your financial aid award letter.

Spouse and Children

The cost of attendance can only include the student’s educational expenses only.  Therefore, spouse and children’s expenses may not be included.  Students should not come to school with the expectation that financial aid is available to support their entire family’s bills and expenditures. It is expected that spouses’ will seek employment, if possible. Students cannot use financial aid to replace or supplement a spouse’s wages.

Child care is the only exception to this. If the student’s spouse works outside of the home, a professional judgment may be made to increase the student’s budget for financial aid to cover day care costs. 

Expenses Financial Aid May Cover

  • Tuition/Fees
  • Room and Board (Rent/Utilities/Food)
  • Personal/Miscellaneous
  • Books/Equipment/Supplies
  • Transportation
  • Daycare costs (applicable only if both parents work outside of the home)
  • Student Health/Disability/Liability Insurance

The mandatory set expenses are tuition, activity fee, medical, life and disability insurance. Daycare costs are only available to students whose spouse works outside of the home or students who are single parents with dependent children.

Expenses Financial Aid May Not Cover

  • Moving expenses (including security deposits for apartments/utility hook-up)
  • Credit card and other consumer debt
  • Car purchases/payments/leases
  • Children, spouse and pets
  • Furniture purchases
  • Down payment on a home
  • Summer living expenses 
  • Co-ops/Home owners association/regime fees/landscaping/home maintenance
  • Organization memberships, such as student memberships, health clubs, et cetera.
  • Charitable organizations
  • Gifts/tithes
  • Investments
  • Supplementing lost or reduced wages
  • Wedding/Engagement expenses
  • Vacations/leisure travel/mission trips
  • Insurance (i.e. Life, Homeowners, Renters, et cetera.)
Last Published with Edits:April 4, 2018 2:43 PM
Last Comprehensive Review:June 2016


Office of Enrollment Management
Financial Aid
45 Courtenay Drive
MSC 203
Charleston, SC 29425-2030
Fax 843-792-6356


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