Cost of Attendance (COA)

Definition: Cost of Attendance (COA) is the total cost of attending a college for a period of one year.

COA is not Direct Cost - Direct Costs are the charges that actually appear on the student account.  Continue reading to learn more about Southwestern's published COA.

Required Elements of Cost of Attendance

Published Cost of Attendance
Cost of Attendance budgets for the upcoming school year are updated and published in late January or early February each year.  This website is updated with the new costs and the current cost of attendance numbers are archived for one full year.

Tuition and Fees 2023-2024
A school can use either actual tuition or a weighted average based on enrollment when calculating the budget for tuition. 

Southwestern uses actual, full-time tuition for all undergraduate programs.  A weighted, full-time average is used for the graduate programs because they vary in cost per credit hour. 

Tuition Full-Time Semester Amount
Undergraduate - Residential Campus $19,165
Undergraduate - Online $3,900
Undergraduate - Online Military $3,000
Graduate - Residential Campus $7,902
Graduate - Online $7,200
Graduate - Military $5,517

Tuition is charged as a flat rate for the residential campus undergraduate program where the large majority of our students attend full-time.  The flat rate covers 12-18 credit hours.  Students who enroll in less than 12 credit hours are charged by the credit hour.  All other programs charge per credit hour.

Actual per credit hour tuition is located on the billing site for the residential campus programs and on the professional studies site for the online programs.

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Books, Course Materials, Supplies, and Equipment 2023-2024
Every three years the Office of Financial Aid conducts research of the amounts charged for books through the Southwestern College bookstore.  The office uses this data to create the books, course materials, supplies and equipment budget.

Books, Materials, Supplies and Equipment Full Time Semester Amount
All programs $500

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Living Expenses 2023-2024
The Department of Education is very specific concerning how colleges are to craft the Living Expense budget.

For on campus residents, colleges are instructed to calculate a weighted total cost of all housing options on campus and then use the average cost or median cost - whichever is higher.

For off campus residents, Southwestern College uses Living Expense Budgets crafted by The College Board.  This secondary research is based on data from the most recent years' Consumer Expenditure Survey (CES) which is produced by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Low and moderate budgets are developed for regions throughout the United States.  Southwestern uses the amounts for the Oklahoma City region.  The low budget is used for students who are dependent of their parents.  The moderate budget is used for independent students.

Colleges are asked to ensure that all food budgets are developed to cover 3 meals per day for 7 days a week.

For on campus residents, the 17 meal plan cost is used and then an amount derived from a three month average of the USDA Food Plans for males and females aged 19-50 is added to cover the remaining 4 meals.

For off campus residents, the number used is derived directly from the three month average of the USDA Food Plans described above.

Living Expense Budgets Full-Time Semester Amount
On Campus Food and Housing $5,678
Off Campus Food and Housing - Dependent $4,662
Off Campus Food and Housing - Independent $6,201

Actual Food and Housing costs for On Campus Residents is on the Student Accounts website.

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Miscellaneous Personal Expenses 2023-2024
The Miscellaneous category is intended to provide a reasonable budget for items such as clothing, personal maintenance, grooming aids and recreation.  The allowance is designed to permit the student a moderate standard of living while attending college.

Southwestern consults the Living Expense Budget resource from The College Board for this number.  (See living expenses for a full explanation of this research.) The low budget is used for students who are dependent of their parents and the moderate budget is used for independent students.

Miscellaneous Personal Expenses Full-time Semester Amount
Dependent Student Budget $3,031
Independent Student Budget $4,525

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Transportation 2023-2024
A transportation allowance is included to account for a student's travel expenses to and from school and to and from class.  It is intended to be a reasonable cost for gas and maintenance on a previously owned vehicle or any kind of public transportation used to travel to college.  

Southwestern uses The College Board's Living Expense budget for this number.  (See the living expenses area for a full explanation of this secondary research.)  The low budget is used for students who are dependent of their parents and the moderate budget is used for independent students.

Transportation Full-Time Semester Amount
Dependent Students $926
Independent Students $1,383

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Other Allowed Expenses 2023-2024
The Department of Education also provides for several optional components to a person's individual cost of attendance.  These are considered on request.

Personal Computer:
Students enrolled full-time in the residential program are provided with a computer to use for their term at Southwestern as part of their tuition.  All other students may request a one-time increase to their cost of attendance for the purchase of a personal computer up to $1,000 upon submission of a receipt of sale.

Dependent Care Expenses:
For a student with one or more dependents, the cost of attendance allowance can be increased for actual dependent care expenses if it is necessary for the student to place the children in care in order to go to school.  Students may request an increase for dependent expenses by providing documentation of the expense which can include invoices paid to a child care provider.

Disability Related Allowance:
On request, students may request to have their cost of attendance allowance increased for expenses related to a student's disability by providing documentation of the disability and the related expense.

Study Abroad Expenses:
When students plan on studying abroad, Southwestern College will increase the cost of attendance to include additional expenses related to the study abroad experience.  The form for capturing these expenses and for approving the student abroad experience can be found on the Builder's Abroad website.

Cost of First Professional Credential:
For students entering the teaching profession, the one-time cost of obtaining the first professional credential in the field can be included in the cost of attendance by request.  This allowance is an average based on cost information obtained from the Chair of the Education Department at Southwestern College.

Cost of First Professional Credential - Teacher License Average Amount
First Teacher License/Professional Credential $428

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Estimating the Cost to Attend (Net Cost)
Net cost is the budgeted amount remaining after after scholarships and grants have been subtracted from the total Cost of Attendance.  Calculating net cost is easy. 

  1. Write down the costs discussed above that apply to your situation and add them together to get a total for one semester,
  2. Multiply the total by the number of semesters you intend to enroll, and then
  3. Find your financial aid offer and subtract from the cost of attendance the year total of the scholarships and grants you have been offered

Then use this formula:

Most people are more interested in what their account balance will be than their net cost to attend.  Your financial aid offer has an excellent worksheet to help you estimate your account balance.  You will use actual, not budgeted costs to arrive at that number.  The more popular actual costs are listed on your offer.

Then use this formula: 

Still having trouble?  Contact the Office of Financial Aid to receive a detailed estimate of direct costs minus financial aid.  The Federal Net Price Calculator will give you a rough idea of cost using COA in its calculations as opposed to direct costs.

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