I'm looking at my school's coa for the year and even in my most expensive budget scenario I'm still 5k under even with summer included.
Do people actually manage to spend the full coa? I just don't see it.
Eta: I guess my real question to the older and fiscally conservative students is:
what do you do with the coa for budget puposes?
Do you disregard completely? Budget around a portion (85%??) of it?
If, like me, you're able to construct your own budget (and be confident in its accuracy) you should ignore the school's COA (except for loan/finaid purposes).
For my masters, I was studying part-time and I worked out that if I took more than X classes, my savings would run out too soon, but I've I stayed at X pace, my earnings would see me through.
For law school, I took cost of books and tuition from the school's COA, added my own expenses, and worked out my own budget