COAs Too Low?

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chichi1992
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COAs Too Low?

Postby chichi1992 » Thu Mar 02, 2017 12:52 pm

It seems like the prevailing opinion on TLS is that the COAs published by schools are very reasonable, if not high. Does anyone else feel like the opposite is true? Take BU, for example. I got a hefty scholarship from them, but I will need to take out loans (Grad PLUS or Private --> I have v good credit, so I have *less* private loan fears).

2016–2017 Student Budget
Tuition $50,000
Student Fees $1,210
Books and Supplies $1,462
Room and Board $13,050
Transportation $1,120
Personal Expenses $3,050
Direct Loan Fees $220
Total $70,112

I would love to meet the person who can live AND eat in Boston for $13,050! Even if you live far out in Mass that seems low-balled. And if you DO find housing that cheap, it WILL be far outside Boston, and then I can hardly see $3,050/year covering all transportation expenses. And cutting into the "personal expenses" category to cover room & board seems like a bad idea...that seems like it should be used for health insurance, uncovered medical expenses and co-pays, or "emergencies" (i.e., a house guest decides to flush god knows what down the toilet and your landlord charges you $600, or your laptop gets stolen and you have to shell out $1000 for a new one, or a relative passes away and you need to buy a $300 plane ticket to attend a funeral, etc.). I also have a dog, whose food and vet costs easily amount to $1,000 per year. (And I won't be getting rid of the dog, as any animal-lover would sympathize with :wink: )

I can live cheaply. I currently eat on about $60-$70/week in DC (including the occasional drink) and pay reasonable rent. I have been out of school for several years, so there will definitely be some adjustments moving from a salaried position to living off loans, but some of these COAs seem completely unreasonable to me.

And from everything I've seen, private loans will only cover up to the COA (minus any scholarships or grants or federal loans received). How do people do it?

cavalier1138
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Re: COAs Too Low?

Postby cavalier1138 » Thu Mar 02, 2017 1:30 pm

These estimates are for 9-month periods, not full years. And unless BU is totally different, your health insurance costs should be built in to student fees, because schools assume you're enrolling in their plan unless you tell them otherwise. I'm not sure how rent is in Boston, but assuming it's around the level of Chicago, their numbers seem reasonable. If BU offers on-campus housing, I assume it fits within their offered budget.

Also, how the hell are you getting around town? $1,120 is more than enough to cover 9 months of getting around in any major city, assuming you aren't taking a cab everywhere. Last I checked, Boston has a pretty decent public transit system. Use it.

Npret
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Re: COAs Too Low?

Postby Npret » Thu Mar 02, 2017 1:48 pm

cavalier1138 wrote:These estimates are for 9-month periods, not full years. And unless BU is totally different, your health insurance costs should be built in to student fees, because schools assume you're enrolling in their plan unless you tell them otherwise. I'm not sure how rent is in Boston, but assuming it's around the level of Chicago, their numbers seem reasonable. If BU offers on-campus housing, I assume it fits within their offered budget.

Also, how the hell are you getting around town? $1,120 is more than enough to cover 9 months of getting around in any major city, assuming you aren't taking a cab everywhere. Last I checked, Boston has a pretty decent public transit system. Use it.

Just for comparison..
The monthly unlimited metro card in NYC is $116.50. About 1050 for 9 months. I don't think OP is taking cabs everywhere.
Last edited by Npret on Thu Mar 02, 2017 1:53 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Blue664
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Re: COAs Too Low?

Postby Blue664 » Thu Mar 02, 2017 1:50 pm

Boston is more expensive than Chicago. Even assuming a 9-month COA estimate, that means they're allotting you $1,450 for room and board per month. Places (with no rats or bugs, fewer than 3 roommates, and nearby grocery stores and/or parking) with per person rent that low are definitely not easy to find. And many of the cheaper places that are older and not as updated have insane heating bills in the winter, which you can't even predict because landlords don't tell you. And BU is on the green line of the subway, which is actually above ground and is really quite terrible if you want to get anywhere in less than an hour. Rents have increased something like 30% in Boston just the past five years....

I feel you, OP. :(

goldenbear2020
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Re: COAs Too Low?

Postby goldenbear2020 » Thu Mar 02, 2017 4:25 pm

Npret wrote:
cavalier1138 wrote:These estimates are for 9-month periods, not full years. And unless BU is totally different, your health insurance costs should be built in to student fees, because schools assume you're enrolling in their plan unless you tell them otherwise. I'm not sure how rent is in Boston, but assuming it's around the level of Chicago, their numbers seem reasonable. If BU offers on-campus housing, I assume it fits within their offered budget.

Also, how the hell are you getting around town? $1,120 is more than enough to cover 9 months of getting around in any major city, assuming you aren't taking a cab everywhere. Last I checked, Boston has a pretty decent public transit system. Use it.

Just for comparison..
The monthly unlimited metro card in NYC is $116.50. About 1050 for 9 months. I don't think OP is taking cabs everywhere.

BU students get unlimited subway/bus rides for $267 per semester (regular price is $84.50/month).
http://www.bu.edu/parking/permits-passe ... ass-types/

cavalier1138
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Re: COAs Too Low?

Postby cavalier1138 » Thu Mar 02, 2017 4:34 pm

Blue664 wrote:Boston is more expensive than Chicago. Even assuming a 9-month COA estimate, that means they're allotting you $1,450 for room and board per month. Places (with no rats or bugs, fewer than 3 roommates, and nearby grocery stores and/or parking) with per person rent that low are definitely not easy to find. And many of the cheaper places that are older and not as updated have insane heating bills in the winter, which you can't even predict because landlords don't tell you. And BU is on the green line of the subway, which is actually above ground and is really quite terrible if you want to get anywhere in less than an hour. Rents have increased something like 30% in Boston just the past five years....

I feel you, OP. :(


Sorry, that can't be right. Even in NY, you can find per-person rent well below that in decent neighborhoods. Are you saying that there are literally no 2BR apartments in any livable neighborhood for under $2,900? I have friends in Boston who can't be earning that much who aren't living in abject poverty.

Also, there are evidently plenty of BU students who do live on this budget, so either they're all crowding into tenements together, or the allotted funding is reasonable.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: COAs Too Low?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Thu Mar 02, 2017 4:37 pm

I don't know anything about current Boston prices but TBF $1450 is rent *and* food.

Npret
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Re: COAs Too Low?

Postby Npret » Fri Mar 03, 2017 9:01 am

goldenbear2020 wrote:
Npret wrote:
cavalier1138 wrote:These estimates are for 9-month periods, not full years. And unless BU is totally different, your health insurance costs should be built in to student fees, because schools assume you're enrolling in their plan unless you tell them otherwise. I'm not sure how rent is in Boston, but assuming it's around the level of Chicago, their numbers seem reasonable. If BU offers on-campus housing, I assume it fits within their offered budget.

Also, how the hell are you getting around town? $1,120 is more than enough to cover 9 months of getting around in any major city, assuming you aren't taking a cab everywhere. Last I checked, Boston has a pretty decent public transit system. Use it.

Just for comparison..
The monthly unlimited metro card in NYC is $116.50. About 1050 for 9 months. I don't think OP is taking cabs everywhere.

BU students get unlimited subway/bus rides for $267 per semester (regular price is $84.50/month).
http://www.bu.edu/parking/permits-passe ... ass-types/

So what is the $1120 number for ? Flights home?

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floatie
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Re: COAs Too Low?

Postby floatie » Fri Mar 03, 2017 10:57 am

I have a sibling at BU who shares a really good 2BR for $1200 per month, which includes all utilities and cable. She said that if you look hard enough and are willing to share a place with 2-3 additional people you can easily find a decent place for $800-900/month.

cavalier1138
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Re: COAs Too Low?

Postby cavalier1138 » Fri Mar 03, 2017 11:03 am

Npret wrote:
goldenbear2020 wrote:
Npret wrote:
cavalier1138 wrote:These estimates are for 9-month periods, not full years. And unless BU is totally different, your health insurance costs should be built in to student fees, because schools assume you're enrolling in their plan unless you tell them otherwise. I'm not sure how rent is in Boston, but assuming it's around the level of Chicago, their numbers seem reasonable. If BU offers on-campus housing, I assume it fits within their offered budget.

Also, how the hell are you getting around town? $1,120 is more than enough to cover 9 months of getting around in any major city, assuming you aren't taking a cab everywhere. Last I checked, Boston has a pretty decent public transit system. Use it.

Just for comparison..
The monthly unlimited metro card in NYC is $116.50. About 1050 for 9 months. I don't think OP is taking cabs everywhere.

BU students get unlimited subway/bus rides for $267 per semester (regular price is $84.50/month).
http://www.bu.edu/parking/permits-passe ... ass-types/

So what is the $1120 number for ? Flights home?


Students with cars, taxi fare, etc. Schools always pad these budgets well beyond what is necessary (e.g. $3,000 in "personal expenses", which is actually used as drinking money).

Blue664
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Re: COAs Too Low?

Postby Blue664 » Fri Mar 03, 2017 11:04 pm

cavalier1138 wrote:
Blue664 wrote:Boston is more expensive than Chicago. Even assuming a 9-month COA estimate, that means they're allotting you $1,450 for room and board per month. Places (with no rats or bugs, fewer than 3 roommates, and nearby grocery stores and/or parking) with per person rent that low are definitely not easy to find. And many of the cheaper places that are older and not as updated have insane heating bills in the winter, which you can't even predict because landlords don't tell you. And BU is on the green line of the subway, which is actually above ground and is really quite terrible if you want to get anywhere in less than an hour. Rents have increased something like 30% in Boston just the past five years....

I feel you, OP. :(


Sorry, that can't be right. Even in NY, you can find per-person rent well below that in decent neighborhoods. Are you saying that there are literally no 2BR apartments in any livable neighborhood for under $2,900? I have friends in Boston who can't be earning that much who aren't living in abject poverty.

Also, there are evidently plenty of BU students who do live on this budget, so either they're all crowding into tenements together, or the allotted funding is reasonable.


Cav, I didn't say there were none. I literally said they were not easy to find, so I just think it's a tough expectation as far as the COA they allot to everyone. And as Nony said, it's rent AND food. 1L is hard which I'll fully admit you know better than me, and from what I know about living in Boston [which is where I live], making that budget work is undeniably a burden that detracts from school/work (even if not impossible, obviously). More roommates, noisy neighborhoods, shabbier and smaller living and study space, crappy landlords, having to live farther away, taking time to home-cook literally all your meals, etc seem like they would add stress to 1L. And those ubiquitous 1-month broker's fees in Boston are so painful too. :(

I'm always SO impressed with people in any life circumstance who make a budget like that work in an expensive city. But it's hard.

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Tiago Splitter
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Re: COAs Too Low?

Postby Tiago Splitter » Sat Mar 04, 2017 1:04 pm

Just pool together Room & Board + Transportation + Personal expenses and toss in a piece of the "supplies" budget and that's what you have to live on. From there it's up to you to figure out what you need to make it work. 17k for nine months seems very reasonable to me. Dog's on you.

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studentloanplanner
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Re: COAs Too Low?

Postby studentloanplanner » Fri Mar 24, 2017 4:09 pm

No scholarship full debt financed COA is always significantly higher than what they post. A couple reasons: accrued interest accumulated during school, tuition increases not published ahead of time, and origination fees on the loans below what they actually are since borrowing that much pushes you into the grad plus 4% origination fee land. My estimate is that COA is usually 20%-30% too low if you're financing the whole cost without assistance

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runinthefront
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Re: COAs Too Low?

Postby runinthefront » Fri Mar 24, 2017 4:16 pm

studentloanplanner wrote:No scholarship full debt financed COA is always significantly higher than what they post. A couple reasons: accrued interest accumulated during school, tuition increases not published ahead of time, and origination fees on the loans below what they actually are since borrowing that much pushes you into the grad plus 4% origination fee land. My estimate is that COA is usually 20%-30% too low if you're financing the whole cost without assistance

This post, although accurate in some sense, is nonresponsive to OP's actual question.

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dannyswo
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Re: COAs Too Low?

Postby dannyswo » Sat Mar 25, 2017 9:16 am

cavalier1138 wrote:
Npret wrote:
goldenbear2020 wrote:
Npret wrote:
cavalier1138 wrote:These estimates are for 9-month periods, not full years. And unless BU is totally different, your health insurance costs should be built in to student fees, because schools assume you're enrolling in their plan unless you tell them otherwise. I'm not sure how rent is in Boston, but assuming it's around the level of Chicago, their numbers seem reasonable. If BU offers on-campus housing, I assume it fits within their offered budget.

Also, how the hell are you getting around town? $1,120 is more than enough to cover 9 months of getting around in any major city, assuming you aren't taking a cab everywhere. Last I checked, Boston has a pretty decent public transit system. Use it.

Just for comparison..
The monthly unlimited metro card in NYC is $116.50. About 1050 for 9 months. I don't think OP is taking cabs everywhere.

BU students get unlimited subway/bus rides for $267 per semester (regular price is $84.50/month).
http://www.bu.edu/parking/permits-passe ... ass-types/

So what is the $1120 number for ? Flights home?


Students with cars, taxi fare, etc. Schools always pad these budgets well beyond what is necessary (e.g. $3,000 in "personal expenses", which is actually used as drinking money).

$3000 a month is a lot of drinking.
Edit: If you're not on vacation.

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chichi1992
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Re: COAs Too Low?

Postby chichi1992 » Wed Mar 29, 2017 1:41 pm

It just all seems a bit arbitrary to me...I know the COAs are based on "averages," but how are the schools actually capturing this information? It isn't very transparent.

i.e., BU lists $13,050 for room and board, $3,050 for misc expenses, $1,462 for transportation, and $1,462 for books. Let's say I only have $2,000 total in misc expenses, and I put the rest towards room and board. Then let's say I find housing for $1,100. Utilities add another $150. That leaves $311 for food. This could be done, but it would be really tough. And sure, $1,462 for transportation could be done, but what if you have family living out of state and need to fly home for some reason? Or even just want to leave the Boston area for Christmas? Or have to live far from campus and take a commuter train every day? Could be done...but it might be tough for some people.

Compare this to ND. ND lists $10,000 for room and board, $6,050 for misc expenses, $2,650 for transportation, and $1,750 for books. This calculation seems to significantly overestimate the real COL in South Bend. You could definitely find housing in South Bend for $500-$600/month. And why in the world would a student need almost $700/month for misc expenses? Are ND students flying in their private helicopters from their apartments to class?

I haven't looked at most other schools in-depth, but this is just an example. I feel like if someone is choosing between ND and BU, they should take this into consideration: you may not even utilize your full loans to live an easy life at ND, and you may really struggle to live within your loans at BU.

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Nebby
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Re: COAs Too Low?

Postby Nebby » Wed Mar 29, 2017 5:03 pm

Don't go to BU if you can't make it work. Not much else can be said.




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