NASFAA Updates Monograph 24, Developing the Cost of Attendance, in Preparation for NCAA Rule Changes

Karen McCarthy, Policy & Federal Relations Staff

In light of recent athletic scholarship practices and anticipated rule changes that have now been approved by National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I schools, NASFAA has updated Monograph 24, Developing the Cost of Attendance. The updated monograph includes cost of attendance (COA) principles, methods of constructing COAs, budget components, best practices, and a flowchart to determine the treatment of any award.

Over the weekend, five conferences in the NCAA - the Atlantic Coast, Big Ten, Big 12, Pacific 12, and Southeastern Conferences - voted to expand their athletic scholarships to cover the athlete’s full cost of attendance. Previously, athletic scholarships were allowed to cover only tuition, fees, room, board, and books and supplies, excluding transportation, miscellaneous/personal expenses, and all other expenses and allowances determined on an individual basis (e.g., disability-related expenses, dependent care allowances, etc.).The new rule only applies to the athletic programs at institutions in the “Power Five” conferences, but is optional for other Division I colleges.

The NCAA change is likely to draw more attention to the COA development process at the institutional level, so NASFAA staff, with the assistance of a working group of financial aid directors affected by the NCAA change, carefully reviewed and updated our longstanding Monograph 24, Developing the Cost of Attendance, to ensure that it reflects current best practices and guidance from the Department of Education (ED). For example, The revised Monograph emphasizes the principle that only the student's own expenses may be included in COA.

The Monograph also addresses the recent practice of some institutions paying for insurance on behalf of an athlete that protects against loss of future income due to injury. Because this expense is not related to a student’s educational program, the expense should not be included in the COA, but would be included as estimated financial assistance (EFA). 

Schools are often making determinations of what is considered EFA at the same time they are considering whether a certain expense belongs in the COA. The Monograph reflects current ED guidance that assistance that is received specifically because the recipient is a student is considered EFA, unless it is non-need based employment. In some cases money received or paid on behalf of the student (such as payment of a bill) is instead included as untaxed income on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). It may be confusing to determine whether assistance received is EFA or income, but that determination is independent of whether the intended use of the assistance is encompassed by the COA. The monograph includes examples, best practices, and a flowchart to assist schools in making this determination.


Publication Date: 1/20/2015

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