What Does Financial Aid Cover? Everything You Need to Know

Financial aid is a crucial aspect of college education that helps students and their families finance the cost of attending college. However, many students are unsure about what expenses financial aid actually covers.

In this article, we will provide you with a comprehensive overview of what financial aid entails and how it can support your college journey.

Understanding Financial Aid

Financial aid encompasses various forms of assistance that help students cover the costs associated with attending college. These forms include grants, work-study programs, scholarships, and loans. Whether it’s tuition fees, textbooks, housing, or even a new computer for academic purposes, financial aid can help ease the financial burden of pursuing higher education.

To access most financial aid opportunities, you will need to complete the Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). Astonishingly, around 25% of families do not complete the FAFSA®, resulting in missed opportunities to secure millions, if not billions, of dollars in aid.

Cost of Attendance

The cost of attendance (COA) is a crucial factor in determining the amount of financial aid you may receive. COA refers to the average expenses incurred during an academic year, taking into account tuition fees, textbooks, housing, meals, transportation, and other personal expenses. Most colleges provide a comprehensive breakdown of these costs in a COA report.

To illustrate this further, let’s take a look at an example. Below is the cost of attendance for a student attending a private college in Florida:

  • Tuition: $35,768
  • Fees: $854
  • Books: $1,200
  • Housing: $9,010
  • Meals: $5,590
  • Transportation: $928
  • Personal Expenses: $1,500
  • Loan Origination: $72

Please note that the COA varies from year to year, as colleges and universities adjust it to reflect any changes in expenses. Your total COA will depend on factors such as the institution you attend and the housing option you choose.

Receiving Financial Aid

Once your financial aid is disbursed, it will typically be directed to cover tuition fees and other expenses that the school pays on your behalf. Any remaining funds will be reimbursed directly to you. To ensure swift reimbursement, make sure to provide your direct deposit information in your student account portal. Otherwise, you will receive a check in the mail.

It’s important to use your reimbursement responsibly. Prioritize your spending based on your academic needs rather than indulging in unnecessary expenses. While it may be tempting to splurge on spring break vacations or music festivals, it’s wise to invest your funds in books, savings accounts, or other educational necessities. This approach will help you maintain a healthy GPA while minimizing student debt.

Remember, financial aid exists to support your educational journey and pave the way for a successful future. Use it wisely and focus on your academic goals.

For more information on how to effectively use financial aid refunds and what expenses they can be applied to, check out this comprehensive article.


Now that you have a better understanding of what financial aid covers and how it can benefit you, take full advantage of this invaluable resource to pursue your college education without unnecessary financial stress.

Don’t miss out on the opportunities that financial aid can provide – start exploring your options and secure the support you need for a brighter academic future.

Share the knowledge