Cost of Attendance

The cost a student may incur by attending the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith can depend on a number of factors. Is the student considered an Arkansas resident? What is the student’s living arrangement? How many credit hours is the student enrolled in? Etc.


The amounts given below are estimated figures for one academic year and are based on an in-state student enrolled in 15 credit hours each semester, living on campus, and with a basic meal plan:

2018-2019 Cost of Attendance
Cost of Attendance Component Estimated Expense
Tuition and Fees $6,935
Books and Supplies $1,605
Housing $4,846
Food $3,580
Transportation $1,344
Personal Expenses (laundry, hygiene, etc.) $3,015
Total Estimated Expense (Cost of Attendance)    $21,325   



2019-2020 Cost of Attendance
Cost of Attendance Component Estimated Expense
Tuition and Fees $7,339
Books and Supplies $1,605
Housing $5,253
Food $3,786
Transportation $1,419
Personal Expenses (laundry, hygiene, etc.) $3,015
Total Estimated Expense (Cost of Attendance)    $22,464


What is Cost of Attendance (COA)?

The Cost of Attendance (COA) is a budget used by any financial aid office to estimate the average student’s cost to attend that university. This is usually given as an annual amount. COA includes tuition and fees; room and board (or a housing and food allowance); and allowances for books, supplies, transportation, and loan fees. It also includes estimates for miscellaneous and personal expenses the student may incur as a result of seeking a degree.


How is Cost of Attendance Used?

COA is a limit to how much a student may receive in financial aid for any student receiving any federal, state, or institutional aid. If a student is only receiving privately funded awards, that student is not limited by COA unless specifically restricted by the awarding agency. COA is also used to determine a student’s financial need, based on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).


How is Cost of Attendance Determined?

The UAFS Financial Aid Office has determined COA based on student responses from surveys and annually adjusted based on national rates of inflation. Since COA is based on a student’s enrollment, it is possible for it to fluctuate if a student adds or drops classes. For this reason, COA is locked on the eleventh day of class, based on the student’s enrollment on the eleventh day of class, also known as Census Date.  Any courses added after the Census Date will not be included in the student’s COA.


NOTE: A student’s financial aid package may be affected if a student drops courses prior to the Census Date.


How does Enrollment affect Cost of Attendance?

The tuition and fee portion of a student’s COA will be based on the student’s level of enrollment. There are four levels of enrollment for financial aid, which include: Full time, Three-Quarter time, Half time, and Less than Half time.  The allowances for books and supplies, transportation, miscellaneous, and personal expenses will not be affected by the student’s enrollment status. For students attending less than half-time, the COA includes tuition and fees as well as allowances for books, supplies, transportation, and personal/miscellaneous expenses.


What classes will be included in the Cost of Attendance?

Only those classes that meet the following criteria will be included in the COA:

  • Non-Repeated
  • First Repeat
  • Added prior to the 11th class day (Census Date) for the Fall and Spring semesters
  • Added prior to the 5th class day (Census Date) of the Summer semester
  • Otherwise eligible for financial aid


How does Cost of Attendance affect Financial Aid?

Federal and state regulations mandate that each student has a Cost of Attendance that accounts for averaged, estimated expenses that any degree-seeking student at the institution may incur as a result of pursuing their education at that institution. These regulations also mandate that a student’s total financial aid package must be limited to the student’s COA. This means that as a student begins to accrue additional financial assistance, the student may lose eligibility for existing or new awards to prevent an over-award on the student’s file. This also means that a student’s financial need could be reduced, which could also affect a student’s financial aid.


What is Financial Need?

Financial Need is calculated by the COA minus the Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which is a result of the FAFSA. Financial Need can also be affected by Other Financial Assistance (OFA) including scholarships, grants, or other need-based aid the student is receiving. So a student’s Unmet Need is calculated by Financial Need minus OFA.



Cost of Attendance



Financial Need


Expected Family Contribution (EFC)



Other Financial Assistance


Financial Need



Unmet Need


Why is Financial Need and Unmet Need Important?

Some financial aid awards are considered need-based, which means the student must have financial need to qualify. Some of these awards include: Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG), Federal Work Study, and Federal Direct Subsidized Loans.


Important Highlights concerning Cost of Attendance

The Financial Aid Office makes every effort to monitor and adjust a student’s financial aid package to avoid an instance of over-award; however, outside scholarships, third-party payments, and any other financial assistance a student may receive cannot be accounted for until funds have been received. This means that if additional funds are received by UAFS after the disbursement date for the semester, an adjustment could cause a balance due on the student’s account.  The reason a student may incur an outstanding balance could be related to an over-awarded refund the student may have received. If this rare circumstance should affect a student, the Financial Aid Office will contact the affected student directly to notify them of the impact.