Undergraduate Cost of Attendance Formula

A student’s Cost of Attendance (COA), also referred to as the student’s budget, is an estimated amount that it will cost to attend school for the 9-month academic year (August – May). It is determined using rules established by federal and state laws, and is based on a student’s academic workload and living arrangements. This number is used by the school to determine the maximum amount of financial aid (loans, grants, scholarships, fee-waivers, etc.) a student can receive for that award year.

Please note that Cost of Attendance does not represent actual charges on a student’s account. Actual charges may be higher or lower than those shown on the COA. Some charges may be absent all-together. For instance, a student living off-campus or with parents will still have an estimated room and board allowance in his/her COA, but would not be charged by the university for those items.

View the average cost of attendance for full-time undergrad students and part-time undergrad students.

Determining Financial Need

The following formula determines a student’s initial financial need:


The Cost of Attendance figure contains the following components:

  1. Average cost of tuition and fees
  2. Average cost of books
  3. Room and Board
  4. An allowance for transportation costs
  5. An allowance for miscellaneous and personal expenses

The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is calculated based on the information the student provides on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The EFC contains the following components:

  1. Student contribution from income
  2. Student contribution from assets

For dependent students, the EFC also contains:

  1. Parent contribution from income
  2. Parent contribution from assets

Financial aid received from all sources (Scholarships, Grants, Loans, Tuition Discounts, Assistantships and Stipends, Vocational Rehabilitation, Arkansas Workforce funds, etc) cannot exceed financial need, or an overaward occurs. An overaward requires federal aid to be reduced. A reduction of your federal financial aid can occur at any time.

Calculating Financial Aid Award

Eligibility for need-based financial aid programs is based on the following calculations:


Then, Financial Need Minus All Sources of Financial Assistance other than federal aid:

  • Private scholarships from any source
  • All scholarships and tuition assistance received from UA Little Rock
  • Aid received from the State of Arkansas (including all scholarships and tuition assistance)
  • Tuition discounts (including employee tuition benefits)
  • Vocational Rehabilitation payments
  • Veteran’s Educational Benefits (including all tuition payments and monthly benefit amounts)
  • Graduate Assistantships and Stipends

Then, Minus Federal Grants. This equals Remaining Need.

Then, Remaining Need Minus Federal Loan Eligibility and Minus Federal Work Study Eligibility. This equals Unmet Need.


Financial aid funds received from all sources cannot exceed financial need, or an overaward occurs. An overaward requires federal aid to be reduced. A reduction of your federal financial aid can occur at any time.


Financial aid is awarded with the assumption that the student is regularly admitted and will enroll full-time (12 or more hours undergraduate; 9 or more hours graduate or professional) at UA Little Rock. Financial aid funds are disbursed to the student each semester based on the final number of hours enrolled as of the financial aid registration deadline. Hours taken for Audit, College Level Examinations Programs (CLEP), Department Credit, Proficiency Examination Program, or Advanced Placement are not counted when determining enrollment for financial aid purposes.
Part-time students are eligible for some types of aid. The dollar amount awarded and paid to the students will depend upon the number of hours enrolled. Most Title IV financial aid programs require a minimum of half-time enrollment. Some programs require full-time enrollment.
Remember: You must be fully admitted and enrolled at least half-time to receive federal loan funds. Minimum enrollment requirements are:

  • Undergraduate – 6 hours
  • Graduate – 5 hours
  • Law – 5 hours

NOTE: Dropping below half-time status after receiving loan funds may cancel eligibility for future loan disbursements. Students who are enrolled in coursework at a different level (for example, graduate students enrolled in undergraduate coursework), must document that the coursework is a requirement for their intended program of study. If the classes are not a requirement for the program, the classes will not be counted for financial aid eligibility.