The Journal of Higher Education, 2017
Robert Kelchen, Sara Goldrick-Rab, and Braden Hosch
Discussions of college costs often focus on tuition and fees, but living cost allowances for room, board, and other expenses account for more than half of the total cost of attending college. The allowances, developed by colleges and universities, also affect student eligibility for federal financial aid and the accuracy of accountability systems. This study examined institutional variation in living cost allowances and assessed the consistency of allowances by comparing them to living cost estimates specific to the college’s region. Results across multiple specifications indicated that nearly half of all colleges provide living-cost allowances at least 20% above or below estimated county-level living expenses.