Financial Aid

8. Student Budgets

The terms of budget, cost of attendance (COA) and cost of education are used synonymously among financial aid professionals.

The primary populations of students are Resident, Contiguous, and Non-resident students. Each population has two subgroupings of “living with parents” and “not living with parents”. Budgets are constructed for the following populations.

  • Residents with parents
  • Residents not with parents
  • Contiguous with parents
  • Contiguous not with parents
  • Non-resident with parents
  • Non-resident not with parents
  • Half-Way House Resident students

Standard Academic Term: Cost of attendance is a budget allowance initially based on average tuition charges and average costs associated with a standard term length used to calculate need.

Prior to the “Enrollment Status Date” of each term, budgets are built based on estimated standard weeks of instruction, an average tuition charged to a student based on residency status and estimated costs for housing, transportation, books, and personal expenses. The average tuition charge for Fall/Spring is based on 12 credit hours per term of enrollment. The basic components listed below.

  • Tuition and Fees: Students enrolled are assessed a tuition charge using a weighted average enrollment and calculated as 12 hours per term for the academic year. Students at Somerset Community College are assessed a tuition charge based upon their actual enrolled units per term for the academic year.
  • Books and Supplies: An allowance for books and supplies is determined based on the average charge per student attending a KCTCS institution.
  • Housing (and board): Two categories are used to determine the amount of the per-term housing allowance used in the initially assessed cost of attendance based on ISIR data:(1)students who list a residence with parents on the FAFSA and (2) students who indicate a residence other than with parents. Students assigned to DSMA student group are given a minimum housing budget of $1 to comply with Federal half-way house COA restrictions.
  • Transportation: A transportation allowance is given per semester. Students assigned to DSMA student group are given a minimum housing budget of $1 to comply with Federal half-way house COA restrictions. Transportation is calculated at 25 miles round trip x 5days a week x 32 weeks x the established amount per mile.
  • Miscellaneous Personal Expenses: A semester allowance is added to account for allowable personal expenses which may include items such as clothing, personal keep,and recreation providing a reasonable standard of living for the student. Students assigned to DSMA student group are given a minimum housing budget of $1 to comply with Federal half-way house COA restrictions.

COA budgets are reviewed annually to determine accuracy. There are various methods that can be employed to determine cost components such as student surveys, cost of living data supplied by government entities, comparison of other college COA’s as well as COA Research by The College Board. KCTCS leans on comparison data from the community college sectors from the contiguous states as well as The College Board data.

Summer Term: Cost of attendance is a budget allowance initially based on actual tuition charges with the other basic components calculated using average costs per week for actual enrolled weeks of instruction.

Colleges may use professional judgment to adjust the COA on a case-by-case basis to allow for special circumstances through a budget appeal process outlined in Section 8.6. Such adjustments to COA must be documented in the student’s file. A budget may not be adjusted for the sole purpose of acquiring additional loans. Common components added to the basic student budget as additional costs are:

  • Dependent Care Expenses: An allowance based on the estimated actual expenses incurred for such dependent care to be used for a student with one or more dependents. The allowance is based on the number and age of such dependents,not to exceed reasonable cost. Dependent care must include, but is not limited to,class time, study time, field work, internships, and commuting time.
  • Study Abroad Expenses: Additional cost associated with a student enrolled in an approved study abroad program as approved by the owning school.
  • Disability Related Costs: Additional allowance determined by the school for expenses related to the student’s disability including special services, personal assistance, transportation, equipment, and supplies not provided by other agencies.
  • Computer and Required Software: Computer purchases are treated as a reimbursement. Students are required to provide a receipt as documentation of purchase. Software included in the appeal must be required for program of study.Maximum computer purchase allowance is determined at the local college level.
  • Room and Board for Less Than Half-Time Students: This allowance may be given for not more than three semesters, of which no more than two may be consecutive,at the institution’s option.

Budget restrictions are applicable in some instances based on student status or method of instructional delivery. Instances of budget restrictions are listed and described below.

  • Incarcerated Students: The cost of attendance for incarcerated students is limited to tuition and fees and required books and supplies. An incarcerated student is ineligible for FSA loans, and if in a federal or state penal institution, is also ineligible for Pell grants.
  • Less Than Half-Time Students: For students who are enrolled less than half-time,only the costs for tuition and fees, and allowances for books, supplies, and transportation are included as part of COA. A limited amount of room and board and dependent care expenses may be included as part of the COA with professional judgment. Room and board adjustments are limited to up to three semesters (or equivalent), with no more than two of the semesters being consecutive at any one school. Miscellaneous expenses and personal expenses may not be included in the COA for students enrolled less than half-time.
  • Distance Education: Distance education is used to refer to instruction delivered to students, whether in real time or time delay, who are physically separated from their instructor. Delivery technologies may include the internet, one-way and two-way transmissions through open broadcast, closed circuit, cable, microwave, broadband lines, fiber optics, satellite or wireless communications devices; audio conferencing;or, if used in conjunction with the previous technologies, video cassettes, DVDs, and CD-ROMs. Short-term certificate programs of less than one year offered via distance education are eligible for FSA funds. Students can receive FSA funds for distance education courses if:
    • the courses belong to an eligible program
    • the school has the capability to effectively deliver distance education programs as determined by an accrediting agency recognized by the DOE and that has the evaluation of distance education programs within the scope of its recognition

In general, KCTCS waivers credit the student’s tuition and fees as applicable for the particular statutory waiver; therefore, the tuition and fee amount is included in the cost of attendance in most circumstances. In these cases, tuition and fee payment is counted as estimated financial assistance. In cases where a student is never charged for tuition and fees, the cost of attendance will not include the tuition and fees component.

Students who have additional educational related costs not already included in the established KCTCS budget have the right to appeal. Students must provide written documentation of a school-related expense to be evaluated by a financial aid administrator at the college.

The KCTCS Budget Build Process is an automated, electronic process delivered through PeopleSoft software. KCTCS System Office Financial Aid is responsible for all budget build table set up, data maintenance, and batch processing.