Understanding cost of attendance

Cost of attendance is an estimate of educational expenses used to determine financial aid eligibility. These estimates are based on full-time attendance for the entire academic year.

COA is a projected cost and does not represent the actual amount billed by VCU.

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Student Computer Initiative

Undergraduate students

The Student Computer Initiative requires all undergraduate students at VCU to own a personal computer.

VCU has built a one-time computer purchase allowance into the cost of attendance for all new freshmen and transfer students, which increases eligibility for financial aid. The allowance covers the minimum VCU computer specifications and is adjusted annually.

Adding an allowance to the student’s COA for a computer purchase does not necessarily mean financial aid funds will increase to cover the expense. If a student has already borrowed the maximum amount, is not eligible for a supplemental loan or does not have any remaining funding sources, there may be no financial aid to assist with the purchase of a computer.

To determine if there are any sources of financial aid available for a computer purchase, students should contact the VCU Office of Financial Aid.

Graduate students

VCU does not require graduate students to purchase a computer. However, a computer may be required by the student’s advisor, department chair, dean or course professor.

All graduate students who need to purchase a computer with financial aid funding must provide the following documentation to the VCU Office of Financial Aid:

  1. A letter from the student detailing the necessity of the computer purchase and requesting that the cost of the computer be added to their COA. The signed and dated letter should include the total cost of the computer and software, plus the student’s name, address, telephone number and VCU ID.
  2. A photocopy of the receipt for the computer and any required software. The purchase may be made six months prior to enrollment at VCU through the add/drop deadline of the student’s final semester. The receipt must show the student’s name; date of purchase; purchase price; name, address and phone number of the store where the computer was purchased; and a full description of the computer and software purchased.
  3. A memo from the student’s dean, department chair or academic advisor indicating the purchase of the computer is necessary for the student’s program of study. The memo should explain any computer specifications that are more robust than the standard VCU minimum requirements. It must be on university letterhead, signed and dated by a VCU official, and must include the VCU official’s title, as well as the student’s name, VCU ID, the current program of study and estimated completion date.

Adding an allowance to the student’s COA for a computer purchase does not guarantee that financial aid funds will increase.