Miscalculations of Student Living Costs, Their Impact on Financial Aid, and What They Suggest about Our Institutional Priorities


The following paragraphs are taken from an article that Jill Barshay contributed to the Hechinger Report on June 1:

“A team of academic researchers found that one third of colleges and universities underestimated actual living expenses by more than $3,000. Another 11 percent of schools overestimated by more than $3,000. In other words, almost half get it wrong by a big margin. . . .

“The research is part of an ongoing series of papers, the most recent one delivered on May 27, 2015 at the Association for Institutional Research Annual Forum in Denver, Colorado. An earlier version of this research, titled  “The Costs of College Attendance: Trends, Variation, and Accuracy in Institutional Living Cost Allowances,” was presented at the annual meeting of the Association of Public Policy and Management in October 2014.

“Calculating living costs properly is more than a matter of academic debate. Students who go to schools with higher…

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