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U of L Athletics Leads the Way on Cost of Attendance; Financial Literacy

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Interesting release from U of L:

At last January's NCAA Convention, the Power Five NCAA Division I conferences voted to amend the NCAA's definition of a "full grant-in-aid" to permit a full athletics scholarship to include the cost of attendance limit—a higher limit than ever before.

U of L athletics did not hesitate to mobilize on this new athletics scholarship limit and is positioned to implement this new policy to further support U of L student-athletes.

"This was a landmark change to Division I financial aid rules and, most importantly, a change that will enhance the support we provide our student-athletes" said Tom Jurich/Kevin Miller/John Carns.

Specifically, U of L athletics will fully fund all sports up to U of L's full cost of attendance figure in conjunction with each sports' respective NCAA team scholarship limits. The NCAA's new full grant-in-aid definition now includes tuition, fees, room, board, books, and the new miscellaneous expense element up to the Cost of Attendance (COA).

The new miscellaneous expense element within a full athletic scholarship is often referred to as the "COA gap." The COA gap is intended to cover personal expenses such as transportation, clothing, laundry, cleaning, personal hygiene and grooming, recreation, use of a computer, and dependent care.

U of L's COA gap for 2015-16, as determined by U of L's Financial Aid Office, is $5,364 and is projected to be one of the highest in Division I.  U of L's Financial Aid Office determines the COA gap annually as part of a broader calculation to determine financial aid eligibility for all U of L students, including student-athletes.

"The Department of Education defines the categories that make up a Cost of Attendance and the Department tells us [University of Louisville] the figures must be reasonable," said Sandra Neel, Director of Financial Aid for U of L. "To determine this, we use a variety of data tied to our geographic area including the College Board's low-budget expense figure, Consumer Price Index data, and student surveys on costs to determine reasonable costs for our students."

U of L student-athletes on athletic scholarship participating in "head count" sports---sports that offer full-athletic scholarships per scholarship student-athlete ---will receive U of L's full COA gap.  U of L's head count sports are men's basketball, women's basketball, football, women's tennis, and women's volleyball.

U of L's equivalency sports, which have a pre-determined number of full athletic scholarships to divide amongst an entire roster, will receive additional funding in their respective scholarship budgets also based on the new, full cost of attendance figure. NCAA Student Assistance Funds are also available to help support U of L student athletes.

The following FAQ provides additional information regarding the new cost of attendance policy in Division I and U of L's strategic plan for its implementation.

Frequently Asked Questions

How did U of L determine its COA gap? Why is Louisville's COA gap so high?

U of L's Financial Aid Office determines all elements of the cost of attendance including the miscellaneous expense (COA gap) element. This determination is made for all students attending U of L as it helps determine their overall need level to attend school.

What are the COA gap amounts nationally?

There is a great variation of gaps across Division I. Media reports have indicated a range from an estimated $1,500 to above $5,000. The overall cost of attendance varies by institution based on factors unique to an institution including a school's size, location, and cost of living. The cost of attendance also includes core financial aid elements like tuition, room, board, and books.

What are the COA gap funds intended to cover?

The COA gap is intended to cover a student-athlete's other reasonable costs related to attending college. These costs include transportation, use of a computer, cell phone, clothing, laundry, child care, personal and hygiene items, and other reasonable costs associated with attending college.

What additional life skills education will U of L student-athletes receive in light of the new COA gap funding?

U of L has offered life skills programming to its student-athletes for many years.  A major initiative for U of L's athletics programs for 2015-16 and beyond is to enhance ‘financial literacy' amongst all U of L student-athletes.

U of L's financial literacy programming will include various in-person and on-line training modules to help educate all U of L student-athletes about budgeting, credit and debt management, loans and financing, bank accounts, investing, insurance, as well as guidance about transition from life as a college student to life after college.

Are foreign student-athletes eligible for the COA gap element?

Foreign student-athletes receiving a full athletic scholarship are eligible to receive the COA gap funds like any domestic student athlete on a full athletics scholarship.

How are COA gap funds disbursed?

Similar to other components of an athletic scholarship, the COA gap element will be disbursed in multiple installments per semester to U of L student-athletes on full athletic scholarships that include the COA gap.

Is this pay-for-play?

No. The COA gap element being disbursed to full scholarship student-athletes is part of the newly defined full athletic scholarship. The disbursements are not "stipends"---even though some media have mistakenly used that term.

How does the COA gap factor in to equivalency sports' athletic scholarships?

NCAA Division I equivalency sports operate with a pre-set number of full athletic scholarships to divide amongst a greater number of student-athletes. For example, Division I women's soccer has an NCAA prescribed limit of 14 full athletic scholarships to divide amongst all of its scholarship student-athletes. However, Division I women's soccer programs might have 25 to 30 student-athletes participating. Therefore, the vast majority of women's soccer student-athletes are on partial athletic scholarships. Partial athletic scholarship student-athletes are often in a position to combine their athletic scholarship with other non-athletic (e.g., academic) scholarships to help cover their entire cost of attendance.

All U of L equivalency sports' scholarship budgets will be fully funded to the new cost of attendance level in conjunction with NCAA prescribed limits. Each program decides how much a student-athlete would receive in athletics aid while minding NCAA team scholarship limits and federal financial-aid limits applicable to all college students including student-athletes. An equivalency student-athlete could receive a full athletic scholarship which, in turn, could include the COA gap element.