Financial Aid

Estimating Out-of-Pocket and Remaining Costs

Your out-of-pocket expenses are an estimate of any remaining costs on your UC bill after applying all of your financial aid accepted.

To get a quick estimate of out-of-pocket costs for each term, subtract the aid that you plan to accept from the term direct costs total listed on your award offer.

Projecting these expenses helps you plan your costs. At the same time, your billing costs could be different, and you may also have essential costs to you that are not billed. But projecting your out-of-pocket expenses relative to the UC bill is a great place to start your personal budgeting.

Cost of Attendance (COA)

We are required to assign each student an estimated cost of attendance (COA). Within the COA, there are direct (those anticipated to be on your bill) and indirect (non-billed) costs. 

These costs and your financial aid acceptance helps you plan for the upcoming year. But ultimately, choices you make (going full-time or part-time, living on campus or not) and the approved fees for the year will determine your actual bill. And you will always be in control of what you spend on non-billed costs associated with going to school.

Direct/Billed Costs v. Indirect/Non-billed Costs

Because COA is made up of costs bill and not billed by UC, it can be helpful to look at the breakdown of costs.

Cost components and if they are on the UC bill.

COA Component

COA Description

On UC Bill (i.e., direct cost)?

Tuition and Fees

Individual fees that make up tuition:

  • Instructional fees 
  • General fees 
  • ITIE fees
  • Campus life fees
  • Distance learning fees
  • Non-resident surcharge

Yes; full-time rate is often used initially in COA; rates are prorated on the bill (and later in COA) if student attends part-time; tuition rates are always subject to action by the Board of Trustees

Program Fee

Many UC colleges or majors carry a specific fee in addition to tuition


Housing and Food (also called Room and Board)

Average costs based on if a student lives on-campus, off-campus, or with parents

Only if a student is living on-campus or purchases a meal plan; specific rate may be different based on housing assignment and meal plan choice as well as your cohort year of first moving on campus


Average cost of books and supplies

Only courses using eBooks will be part of the UC bill; most book costs are addressed by purchasing books through bookstores on campus and off or from other online retailers


Average cost of travel to campus, park, and related matters

No; always an indirect cost

Personal Computer Average cost of a computer purchase (added to incoming freshmen budgets) No; always an indirect cost; expenditure will depend on if you need to make a purchase and any purchase made

Miscellaneous Expenses

Average cost of items such as clothing, laundry, entertainment, etc.

No; always an indirect cost

Anticipating Your University Bill

Students are encouraged to anticipate their semester bills as part of the college decision process and for good financial planning. Because the university bill is your primary financial obligation when attending college, use the direct costs listed on your award offer or charts of key billable charges to estimate your bill. Then apply your financial aid awarded to that estimated bill to get a better picture of your out-of-pocket expenses.

Incoming undergraduate, degree-seeking students are under a Cincinnati Tuition Guarantee for their incoming class. Rates are posted when they are set.

Estimates of anticipated rates are used when developing your Cost of Attendance if you receive your award notice prior to the Board of Trustees action to set rates. 

Once the Board has set rates, they are posted our our Website, Enrollment Services, and the Bursar.

Semester bills will be produced within Catalyst and accessed using the "My Finances" tile. Bills will be available after a student registers for classes for each term and according to the following schedule.

  • Fall billing begins on or near July 15th of each year
  • Spring billing begins on or near December 1 of each year
  • Summer billing begins on or near April 1 of each year 

Determining your specific anticipated bill and applying your financial aid to it will give you the best foundation for your financial plan.

Options for Meeting Remaining Costs

Financial aid offers students and families assistance toward college costs. But it is rare for financial aid to cover the entire student bill. It is even rarer for aid to cover both direct/billed and indirect/non-billed costs.

Most students and families will utilize personal resources such as savings, work earnings, or adjustments to their budgets to meet their specific costs associated with attending college. Developing a budget and plan to meet costs with personal resources also reduces reliance on loans and the size of loan debt after college.

At the same time, loans can be an option for some students and parents. Parents of dependent, undergraduate students can borrow using the Federal Parent PLUS Loan. Students can seek out non-federal alternative loans from private lenders. Estimated remaining cost gives you an indication of maximum borrowing eligibility on PLUS or non-federal loans. Of course, borrowers can always borrow less according to their personal financial plan. Loans can be helpful, but borrowing should be done with an eye on the future and accumulating loan indebtedness.

Additionally, because people are not paid on a semester basis, the university offers students the opportunity to use a payment plan to divide the term's bill over several monthly payments.

Develop a Plan

It is important for families to talk about how college expenses are going to be met and what adjustments, if any, are going to be made. The cost of attending college can be made less stressful when a plan is created for how expenses are going to be met.

Additionally, if you anticipate someone else making payments on your behalf, be sure to sign them up via delegated access so they can view your account and make payments. Delegated access allows family, spouses, or others access to the areas of your university record that you designate.