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Understanding Your Estimated Financial Award and the College Financing Plan

The Office of Student Financial Assistance provides estimated financial aid awards based on the initial data on the 2024–25 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

In the latter part of March, you will receive an email at the address provided on your admissions application with instructions on how to view your estimated financial aid. Your estimated aid is for informational purposes only. You do not need to accept or decline these funds. Please review the estimated financial aid award and compare it against estimated awards at other institutions. Incoming TCNJ students can view their estimated awards via the student portal. (Look for an email from the Office of Student Financial Assistance with instructions on how to access the portal.) The award summary screen in your portal links to your College Financing Plan, a federal form that estimates how much it may cost to attend college. We’ve created a video tutorial to help you navigate this process.

Once you have paid your admissions deposit and completed all financial aid documents on your “To-Do List,” we will provide you with an official financial aid award in June. This final award may differ from the estimated award due to the verification of reported data, the availability of funds, and/or any additional aid you may receive from other sources.

Example Cost of Attendance for an In-State On-Campus Student

The cost-of-attendance budget represents the estimated cost to attend TCNJ for one academic year based on 2023–24 expenses. Your COA should not be confused with your student account statement (bill). In late July, you will receive a bill from TCNJ. The bill will charge you only for direct costs. Please note that the college does not bill indirect costs. Still, we realize that students have these additional items as expenses, so we include them in your estimated costs to help with family financial planning. 

Direct and Indirect Costs Total
Academic Year Tuition* $14,706
Mandatory Fees* $3,980
Housing (On-Campus Residence)* $10,148
Food (Meal Plan)* $5,992
Total Direct Costs* $34,862
Books and Supplies** $1,200
Transportation** $1,350
Other Educational Costs (Personal/Misc.)** $3,228
Total Indirect Costs** $5,778
Estimated Cost of Attendance*** $40,640 / yr

*Direct costs are expenses billed by the college on a per-semester basis. Tuition, mandatory fees, housing, and food represent direct costs for an on-campus residential student.

**Indirect costs are expenses that the college does not bill. These costs represent estimates for out-of-pocket expenses a student may incur during the academic year. Books and supplies, transportation, and other educational costs (personal/misc.) represent indirect costs for an on-campus residential student. Therefore, families should budget for these expenses.

***Please note that the final costs for the forthcoming academic year, 2024–25, have not yet been determined and depend on the state budget finalized in the summer. TCNJ will be able to share costs for the 2024–25 academic year in July.  

There may be differences between your actual costs and these estimates based on fees specific to certain courses, the type of meal plan chosen, a health insurance plan (if selected), and/or other academically related expenses. 

TCNJ does NOT guarantee that the aid awarded will meet the COA. You may obtain additional funding, up to the full COA, less other aid, through credit-based Parent PLUS loans and/or alternative/private loans.

Direct Cost, Cost of Attendance, and Net Cost

  • The direct cost includes expenses billed by the college on a per-semester basis. Tuition, mandatory fees, housing, and food represent direct costs for an on-campus residential student.  
  • The cost of attendance includes both direct and indirect costs. Books and supplies, transportation, and other educational costs (personal/misc.) represent indirect costs for an on-campus residential student. Therefore, families should also budget for these expenses. 
  • The net cost on your CFP shows the cost of attendance minus your total grants and scholarships, which do not need to be repaid. Student loans are not included in the net cost calculation.

Student Aid Index

The Student Aid Index is an eligibility index number used by the Office of Student Financial Assistance to determine how much federal student aid the student would receive. This SAI is a result of the FAFSA filed by the student. 

Federal Work-Study

This is a federal student aid program that provides part-time employment while the student is enrolled in school to help pay his or her education expenses. The student must seek out and apply for work-study jobs at his or her school. The student will be paid directly for the hours worked, and the amount earned cannot exceed the total amount awarded by the school for the award year. The availability of work-study jobs varies by school.

Grants and Scholarships

Student aid funds do not have to be repaid. Grants are often based on need, while scholarships are usually based on merit. However, you may have to pay back part or all of a grant if, for example, you withdraw from school before finishing a semester.

Loans

Loans involve borrowed money that must be repaid with interest. Loans from the federal government typically have a lower interest rate than do loans from private lenders. Federal loans, listed from most advantageous to least advantageous, are called Direct Subsidized Loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, and Parent PLUS Loans. You can find more information about federal loans at StudentAid.gov.

  • Direct Subsidized Loan: loans for which the U.S. Department of Education will pay the interest in three circumstances: while you’re in school at least half time, during the first six months after you leave school (referred to as a grace period*), and during a period of deferment (a postponement of loan payments)
  • Direct Unsubsidized Loan: loans for which the borrower is responsible for paying the interest during all periods (i.e., Suppose you choose not to pay the interest while in school or during grace periods and deferment or forbearance periods. In that case, your interest will accrue/accumulate and be capitalized, or added to the principal amount of your loan.)
  • Parent Plus Loan: available to the parents of dependent undergraduate students and entails the borrower being fully responsible for paying the interest, regardless of the loan status
  • Private Loan: a non-federal loan made by a lender such as a bank, credit union, state agency, or school

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