Budget Components

Budgets are based on the California Student Aid Commission’s (CSAC) annual student expense budgets which use figures from a student expenses survey that have been adjusted for inflation or deflation.

CSAC provides figures for the following categories:

  • Books and supplies (understood to include course material fees);
  • Room and Board;
  • Transportation; and
  • Personal / Miscellaneous charges;

Four categories are left for Cuesta to determine: tuition/fees, out-of-state tuition, child/dependent care expenses, and loan fees.

Tuition and fees

Tuition and fees are calculated for each enrollment category on the basis of the average student enrollment in the fall semester of the prior aid year. 

Additional mandatory fees, such as health fees, are totaled before considering units to allow reasonable room for potential mixed enrollment issues. For 2022-23, we estimate these fees at $52 for an aid year.

Prior to the aid year, we assume all students are coming full-time. We will check enrollment on the financial aid freeze date and assign students to the appropriate category (and adjust the budget) based on the number of units for which they are registered.  In subsequent terms, we will increase the tuition/fees allowance if the student has moved to a higher enrollment category.

Example from 2022-23:

Enrollment Category Average Enrollment Tuition and fees for 2022-23
Full-time (12+ units) 14 units $1340
Three-quarter time (9-11.5 units) 10 units $972
Half-time (6-8.5 units) 7 units $696
Less-than-half-time (0.5-5.5 units)   3 units $190


Out-of-state tuition

Out-of-state students will pay an additional out-of-state tuition amount that is based on the average enrollment in the fall semester of the prior aid year.

Enrollment Category Average Enrollment Out-of-state Tuition ($332/unit)
Full-time (12+ units) 14 units $4648
Three-quarter time (9-11.5 units) 10 units $3320
Half-time (6-8.5 units) 7 units $2324
Less-than-half-time 90.5-5.5 units) 3 units $996


Child/Dependent Care

If a student is providing more than half of the support for a child or other dependent, any care costs can be considered as an additional budget component.  This category is limited to reasonable expenses with adequate documentation provided by the students, depending upon the age and number of children involved.  If a student wants to include this category in their cost of attendance, they must initiate the process by requesting an EFC recalculation through http://cuesta.verifymyfafsa.com or by contacting the Financial Aid office.

Loan Fees

If a student is receiving a loan as part of their financial aid package, the cost of attendance must be adjusted to account for loan fees charged in that process.  Cuesta uses a single value for all students in this category: the rounded value of the loan fees paid in the previous year by an independent first-year student who maximizes both subsidized and unsubsidized loans.  For 2022-23, this amount will be $100.

Other Term Lengths

If a student attends term combinations other than the standard Fall/Spring, our system will use a multiplier to adjust budget components that aren't related to your level of enrollment. For example, students who attend fall, spring, and summer will have costs recalculated by multiplying them by 1.3333.  Tuition and out-of-state fees which are calculated by unit load will continue to use the values posted above. 

Less-than-half-time Enrollment

If a student enrolls in less than six units, the cost of attendance used to calculate Pell amounts is the standard nine month Pell cost of attendance minus the budget components for room/board and miscellaneous expenses.